Still so many questions about Naples’ Studio 55

When I left the Lawrence Journal-World to go work at Scripps’ Naples Daily News, I thought I would be there for a minimum of three years, and likely more. I was reuniting with a publisher, John Fish, who I had a great past with while I was in Topeka, and I like and really respect the heck out of Scripps new media boss Bob Benz.

Plus, Naples is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, even if there are a lot of things there that can eat you.

And to say that we had “buy-in” from the highest levels of the Scripps company is the understatement of understatements. It was much more than just a publisher who “got it.”

(Though don’t underestimate how important working with the right publisher is. Sometimes when I’m speaking at a conference I’ll get a response that is something like, “well, my newspaper’s publisher would never go for this.” And my answer to that is always something like, “that’s why I’m never going to work for your publisher.”)

Anyway …

Leaving Lawrence was very hard for me, and something that I thought about nearly every day I was in Florida, but I learned a ton while working in Naples — and most of the folks at Scripps/Naples were not only helpful, but extremely knowledgeable. Scripps is a classy organization.

Plus, you’ve got to add to that equation that the editor of the Naples Daily News, Phil Lewis, is one of those handful of newspaper editors in the U.S. who doesn’t just give lip service to evolving a newsroom to the needs of new media. He does it. He acknowledges that things are different than from when he entered the business, instead of trying to just hang on to history. But more importantly than that, he’s just a damn fine editor and I hope our paths cross again in the future.

I only ended up being in Naples for about 14 months, and no one was more surprised about that than me.

Ultimately, the pull to work at The Washington Post was just too much, especially with my good friend, mentor and former Post photo-god Bill Snead telling me that I “had to do this.” Not to mention that every time I met with the leadership team at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, I was more and more impressed with not only who was running the joint, but the vision.

Even though I’ve been gone from the Naples Daily News for at least three or four months, I still get at least one e-mail a week, if not more, with questions about the Studio 55 vodcast.

So, I’ve decided that because a bunch of our new projects here at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive are about to launch in the next few weeks and I want to discuss those here as they are released, I’d better post some stuff about Studio 55 before it’s too late.

First off, I gotta say that Studio 55 ranks up there with as one of my all-time favorite projects. ( is the site I easily visit the most from my professional life, but was probably more gratifying because of all that it meant.)

Like, Studio 55 was a project that had at least a couple of months of planning and loads of prep work before it launched. Also like, I talked a lot about Studio 55 within the community and the media industry before it launched.

In some ways, I kinda like when projects require me to explain them numerous times to several different groups of people because by the time you launch them you really have a clear vision and understanding about them because you’ve had to verbalize the vision so much.

So, here’s how I’m going to do this. Unless, something goes terribly wrong, or my infamous Adult ADD kicks in, my plan is to break this into two or three posts, likely broken down like this:

  • A discussion about the strategy/thinking behind Studio 55;
  • a look at the equipment we used to produce Studio 55;
  • a look at what daily production and staffing looked like.
  • To be continued …

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    Dad. Journalist. Nerd. Music lover. Baseball fan. Puckhead.