Manhattan Project to Produce Another Bomb

Putting together a winning team is tricky. Take the original Manhattan Project, remove two or three key players and you probably end up without a bomb. A sports team, same deal. One year you win the Super Bowl, the next you don't even make the playoffs.

Magazines work in much the same way.

To put together a great team (on the editorial side) you need...

Grunts - People with good organizational skills that know how to get things done, and make things work. They usually have some kind of love for journalism, but could just as easily be working in a bank. Grunts make up the majority of your staff.

Talent - Not in the broadcast way, but people who actually have amazing journalistic chops, whether they're editors, writers, photographers, fixers, artists or whatever. They produce the majority of the content and do the majority of work. Talents make up about 10% of your team.

Wild Cards - These are the goofy people who shouldn't be employed anywhere that doesn't serve fries. In truth, they probably don't have any marketable skills. You need the real deal.  (Be careful that you don't end up with a con artist who is just posing as a Wild Card. It happens.) Someone who will see things completely differently then everyone else on both your staff and your competitor's staff. Somebody that brings the special to your magazine. It's hard to say how many you should have. How much crazy do you need to achieve brilliance?

Whether it's a sports team or an editorial staff you need the right mix. The problem is, true Wild Cards are rare and expensive, and what they contribute to a team is hard to quantify. When money gets tight, they're the first to go. Think of a sports team that doesn't really care (or need to) win. As soon as they stumble across a true Wild Card, they get rid of them.

The Talent is the next to go, but only the older more experienced ones. The young Talent is still cheap enough to keep around, but without the Wild Cards or the experience of the older Talent, they'll probably end up ruined pretty quick. Talents need to be nurtured.

You've still got the Grunts, but let's face it, once you've stripped journalism of the fun, crazy and money, the Grunts are going to find a job somewhere else.

This is how things like this photoshop creation end up in once important magazines like TIME.


Somebody at TIME thought this was a good idea. You can read about it here.

You see, the word TIME was magic. It would knock down doors that abacadabra couldn't even budge. The catch was, that if a person didn't get some treasure out of the cave after using the word, the cave would be sealed forever. At this point, the magic word has all but lost its power in Washington D.C. (and much of the rest of the world). 

(The same is true for the word NEWSWEEK, of course.)

So the Mary Landrieu thing is a past mistake, but what about the future? How do you create something lasting and monumental when you've gotten rid of the Wild Cards and most of the Talents on your team?

How do you recapture the greatness, or the magic that you once had?

Unfortunately, you don't. At least if this report is accurate.

I've been following the progress of this new Manhattan Project... yes, the name alone gives one cause for concern, the idea is to republish the magazine content on various electronic reader type of devices, and all I can ask is why?

While I don't agree with some of the points Jesus Diaz makes in the Gizmodo piece (it's getting the right readers, not the most), I must say it's stunning to think the Powers of Time Inc. seem to think the problem with their magazines is the paper.

The sad truth is the Time Inc. give us absolutely no reason to browse their product, regardless of the platform. There's nothing there. That's why you get photoshopped little puns on Halperin's TIME blog instead of useful insight into the Healthcare debate.

The caves are sealed.

Listen, I'm not sure exactly how great TIME ever was. I don't think it was ever as great as it should have or could have been. Without exception I was always a little disappointed on Monday morning (when the mag came out). But isn't that how you become a winning team, by never being satisfied?

Winning programs don't go down the drain overnight. At some point everyone kind of realizes that going to a bowl game every year isn't a forgone conclusion. I wonder if the management realizes that they need to start recruiting again? They need some Wild Cards, and some Talent.

Time Inc. you aren't the Chicago Cubs. People aren't going to look at your magazine if you're not winning.

Does anyone remember this? If the Manhattan Project is another Pathfinder (and it sure sounds like it is) these guys are toast.

Bob Jarboe, Rest in Peace

Bob Jarboe was my first real boss and mentor in the world of photojournalism. He taught me things that I didn't even know that I needed to know.

I can't say I did much in return, unless you consider having a slightly less bull-headed AP stringer to deal with as a favor. Man, when I think back on the stringers in Omaha, Lincoln, Des Moines, Iowa City, and Ames he had to constantly wrangle, I think there should be some type of sainthood bestowed.

Saint Bob, The Perpetually Frustrated, but Never Overly Flustered sounds about right.

I'll tell you, he did nurture some pretty good shooters in his day. What a bunch of characters he had in his crew. Weird and beautiful times. Of course, to be honest, Bob was a bit of a character himself. Maybe that explains his high level of tolerance for crazy.

All of this was secondary to his family of course. He was deeply loved and will be sorely missed. I always remember the story he told of saving his meal per diems, for something like a year, and surprising his wife Mary with a brand new (I think it was a 1964) Ford Mustang (paid in cash) for her birthday.

Here's a short obit...

 DALLAS—Former Associated Press photographer Robert "Bob" Jarboe, whose career with the company spanned more than 40 years, has died. He was 85. 
Jarboe died Thursday after being hospitalized with pneumonia, his daughter said Monday. 
Born July 27, 1923, he grew up in Topeka, Kan. During his first semester at Kansas State University, Pearl Harbor was bombed, so Jarboe left college to work as an aircraft radio inspector for the U.S. Army and Air Force. 
When World War II ended in 1945, Jarboe joined the AP in Dallas as a wire photo operator. Aside from several months he served as wire photo operator in Miami in 1946, he worked in Dallas until 1976. He then went to Des Moines, Iowa, where he was a photographer and photo editor. After he retired from AP in 1988, he and his wife returned to Dallas, living in the suburb of Richardson. 
During his AP career he photographed nine presidents, Pope John Paul II and countless sporting events. He also helped cover the assassination of President Kennedy, the Jack Ruby trial and the Apollo 13 mission. 
Daughter Roberta Grenfell said her father decided to retire after he spent an hour on his knees taking pictures of first lady Nancy Reagan only to find he needed help getting back up and had to get assistance from Reagan. 
"He said, 'When the first lady needs to help you get up, it's time to go,'" Grenfell said. 
Jarboe and his wife, Mary, had three daughters. After his retirement, the couple spent time researching their genealogies, Grenfell said. 
Mary's death on Feb. 9 left Jarboe broken-hearted, said Grenfell, whose parents had been together since elementary school. "They were lifelong sweethearts," she said. 
She said her father had a knack for not only making friends, but keeping them, Grenfell said. "He didn't let people slip out of his life," she said. 
Besides Grenfell, Jarboe is survived by daughters Anne Jarboe and Jan Jarboe. He is also survived by two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 
Services are set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Restland Cemetery in Wildwood Chapel in Dallas.