- Kirsten Ballard
“There are big shoes to fill, being a third generation journalist,” he says.
It didn’t dissuade him. He fell in love with community journalism, a place where the impact of his work could be felt from all angles and he could make a huge difference. He always enjoyed the diverse people that work in media.
“There are amazing people, even though the hours suck and the pay sucks,” he says, laughing.
Chris was the managing editor at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC, when he was nominated for NAA’s Top 30 Under 30 awards. Though he saysThe Daily News was limited in staff and resources, they manage to cover a large area.
When he took the job, he was offered an office in the back or the newsroom.
He chose the newsroom.
“It’s great being out there with the reporters,” he said. He spends most of his day working with the reporters. He mentors them, pushing them to be better but offering them a hand when they need it.
He describes it as shepherd leadership. He wants them to come up with solutions.
“I’m a resource, I am not holding their hand through everything,” he said.
He focuses on metrics and analytics, making sure the reporters know what works and what doesn’t work. He believes tracking the metrics is a great learning tool.
His main goal was to grow audience and leadership. The online audience is internet savvy and engaged.
“They don’t always like our paywall,” he laughs. The rule is seven clicks per 30 day window, but often screenshots of content make rounds on Facebook.
“If this is where you’re going to get information, please consider subscribing,” Chris says. “It is unique content, it’s worth paying for. Everyone who argues (with the paywall) comes back.”
Chris grew up before the recession. He was pushed by family and mentors to learn digital, and grow his skills so he would always have a job. He is grateful, even in a print role, to have online experience.
He has took over the hospital coverage. He is point person for the paper and works to amplify coverage of the industry. He is a self-proclaimed “public records nerd,” and wants to make sure his team knows when and what to push for. To Chris, public records are a training resource for his reporters, and show them what’s really going on out there. They add depth to the story.
“We don’t have an axe to grind or an agenda to push,” he said. “We do have the power to enact change.”
In early August, Chris took a new position at The Free Press in Kinston, NC as interim editor. His father served as the editor of The Free Press in 1973.