Lyons: Your input is key to our improvement

While there’s nothing particularly wrong with New Year’s resolutions, there’s often a self-loathing quality to them that’s sort of off-putting.

Setting goals is great. Who doesn’t want to be a better boss, employee, husband, father, friend, etc.? There’s nothing wrong with placing expectations on ourselves to grow spiritually or professionally, or to improve health. But most of that critical kind of self-improvement is difficult to quantify.

Many New Year’s resolutions start with a focus on some flaw or perceived flaw that a person has. I’m “too fat” or “too lazy” are often the inspiration. Well, maybe, but that’s not really a great premise to start a new year.

So back to the goal-setting. Maybe you set out to lose 30 pounds and lose only 20. Is that a failure? Unless you’re competing on a reality show, probably not. Again, there’s nothing wrong with setting goals as long as there’s a healthy reaction to whether we’re achieving them instead of piling on self-hatred to what motivated us in the first place.

Unless you’re an egomaniac, most people already know what’s supposedly wrong with them. We don’t need resolutions to remind us. Focusing on what’s wrong also makes us sometimes lose sight of what’s good in our lives.

Maybe you had tough year at work or were laid off, but you put in extra homework time with your child and he made the honor roll for the first time. While there are aspects of our lives that we have control over, sometimes the universe isn’t in sync with our individual plans.

Regardless of how you feel about resolutions, January brings us a new start whether you had a fantastic 2012 or yearn for a better year in 2013. Thanks, Mayans, for giving us one more shot.

From a news organization perspective, we have business goals and readership goals – circulation and revenue targets. While the newsroom shares those goals, we don’t have a lot of direct control over them.

Newsroom goals are also difficult to quantify. Despite the frequent complaint, I’ve rarely heard editorial employees spend much time talking about how many copies we’re going to sell on a particular day or how many website hits a particular story will get.

Awards are nice. We won Best Newspaper Website from Editor and Publisher last year for the best site with under 250,000 unique monthly visitors. We won 22 awards, including 11 first place awards from the Associated Press Editors Associated Contest last year. We kept the sweepstakes trophy from the Illinois Press Association and 42 won awards, including 13 first-place honors.

But we typically do well in those contests. Would it be a failure if we won only 40 awards this year and didn’t take any national contests? Not in my book.

What we’ll try to do in 2013 is what we always do – be the most timely, relevant and smartest local news source in our area and continue to improve upon what the Northwest Herald has built over decades.

What we want to do is be as connected with our readers as possible and provide information in any platform where you consume news, from the newspaper in your driveway to your tablets and smartphones, because we believe communities that are connected with reliable information are better communities.

We’ll always care about what we do, and we can do it better with your help. We’ll always believe that a continuing dialogue with our readers is better for a news organization than any award.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at Follow him on Twitter at @KevinLyonsNWH.

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