Debbie Gross might know it. So might Dee Dee Yates. And Ron Morey. And Lona Vinson. And Nancy Doss. And a host of others.
It is simple. The ability to contact the top guy at the paper.
You see, many years ago, I was the city editor at a fairly large daily newspaper. There I was, in charge of local stories, the front page, and the metro section for this paper that served tens of thousands of people every day. And the layers between the readers and myself were multiple and thick. It was incredible and I thought it was stupid, to be frank.
Since I first became a newspaper publisher in 2002, I have made it my number one priority above all other things, to be accessible to readers and non-readers. My office phone number (615-666-2440), my cell phone number (615-670-6989) and my e-mail address (email@example.com) are published in print and online every single week.
I have a strict open-door policy and anyone needing or wanting to see me gets to do just that - no blowing people off. I've been doing that for years. Heck, before cell phones were affordable and popular, I was publishing my home phone number weekly. And believe me, my girlfriend knows that the darned Blackberry is attached to me pretty much 24/7, giving new meaning to the slang term "crackberry."
Here's the thing. I believe the publisher should be accessible and accountable to the people he serves, and for that reason, I make sure I'm fairly easy to contact.
There may be times when I refer you to another employee. Why? Simply because they are better equipped to provide you with the answers you need. But I can guarantee you I can get you to the right person and get your problem resolved.
But the simple fact is the buck stops here, so to speak. It does not help to talk to those outside the employment of the Times - they can't help you when it comes to our paper, but I can. Questions, ideas, suggestions, and comments are always welcome and I can guarantee you that each and every one is given full consideration and scrutiny.
While we may not always agree, and you may not always like my answers, I make you two promises: 1) When you call, regardless of why, as long as you aren't cursing at me, you will be treated with respect. 2) When you call, regardless of why, as long as you aren't cursing at me, you absolutely will get what a former boss called "a good listening to."
You have my attention, just call or e-mail.