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What if people actually work together…

Building a cohesive, loyal team is the only way Nonstop will succeed

Posted September 9, 2010 by Diane Seo

My first job out of college was as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. After working as a general assignment reporter for a year, one of the top editors at the paper tapped me to be part of a new special projects team. For the group, he brought in five writers — three of them were among the best, most seasoned journalists at the paper. The other two (I fell in this category) were young writers with enthusiasm and maybe promise, but not much real work experience.

I didn’t realize at the time how pivotal the time on that team would be for me as a journalist. Although we all had our own stories to pursue, we met daily to brainstorm story ideas and discuss ways for us to shape our articles. We went out to lunch and for drinks regularly, and we developed a camaraderie that was both fun and inspiring. I learned so much from the senior writers, and they were extremely generous with their suggestions and guidance. At 23, I was producing far better work than if I had just been left in the newsroom to figure out things on my own.

A better job opportunity led me to leave Texas for Los Angeles, but still to this day — after many years in the biz — I consider my time in Fort Worth to be among my best work experiences.

What I found after working in many different newsrooms is that most journalists work in competitive isolation. We have editors to help shape stories and friends in the newsroom, but we rarely work consistently and closely with other reporters. In fact, there’s often competition and cattiness among writers, especially in the same department. True work camaraderie and collaborations are rare, and in my opinion, the work isn’t as strong because of this.

With Nonstop, I felt it was important to change this dynamic and build a team of local writers, photographers and bloggers who work together to shape stories and grow the site. I wanted to replicate the camaraderie I had experienced in Fort Worth, not just to create a feel-good environment, but because I know building a cohesive, loyal team is the only way a grassroots site like ours will succeed.

So our team gathers regularly for meetings and outings, but we’re also in constant contact with each other via e-mail, texts, Twitter and Facebook. In the past two months, endless group e-mails — I’m talking hundreds — have been sent out. Sometimes, we just banter or share something we heard. But we also shape story ideas. For instance, before embarking on her quest to find Honolulu’s best pizzas, Mari Taketa asked us for our individual recommendations. We sent her our favorites, which she culled down, then she went on her way. Twenty seven pizzas later, she produced this gallery.

John Garcia and Tracy Chan recently went to the Acid Dolls fashion show and worked collaboratively — Tracy producing a photo gallery and John shooting video. Here’s what they accomplished.

John will be shooting pics and video for some of Cat Toth’s upcoming galleries. Our “We’re on it” and “Eat this!” features are ongoing galleries that we all contribute to. We routinely use our personal social networks to promote each other’s content. And we go on lots of group tastings to help each other produce galleries.

I was inspired to write this blog post after coming home from last night’s group brainstorming session. During our nearly two-hour gathering, we discussed story ideas, figured out how to improve content already in the work, and came up with a plan covering events like the “Hawaii Five-O” premiere at Sunset on the Beach — all while sharing plates of pizza, sandwiches and pasta.

When I talk about Nonstop as a consortium of local talent, I’m using the word “consortium” very deliberately. We’re definitely a unique media operation to emerge here in Honolulu. And when I say “we,” I mean it.

My recent blog posts
Why ‘Nonstop?’
A look behind Nonstop


  1. melissa808
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Awww! I think one reason we’re okay with collaboration (after we left, Tracy & I had another idea) is, we don’t have as much ego or need to grab credit for everything. The goal is beyond our individual selves, and we all see that. Besides, it’s fun!

  2. strobie
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 1:02 am

    You’ve always been a great team-builder, Diane. The site is fantastic!

  3. DianeSeo
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 1:28 am

    @strobie Thank you. We need to do that lunch soon. You have time next week?

  4. turkfontaine
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Your back story information has enhanced my experience of the site and I’m sure it increases the feeling of community among the readers, eliciting our comments, which forms the foundation for a site that will grow, attracting more readers, advertisers and contributors. Getting to know who and what from the very first day of launch is of value to the site users,

    Thinking back, with the exception of a few stars, I cannot remember any personal profiles of people who wrote newspaper stories until recent years when the press desperately began to ‘cozy up’ with readers. By then, their ship was taking on too much water and on it’s way down.

    For my part, I’m having a lot of fun reading NonstopHN. Last night I read Ed Morita’s ‘National Food Days’ to my wife. She collapsed in an apoplectic puddle and wheezed, breathless with hysteria.

  5. strobie
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 4:10 am

    @DianeSeo Anytime! I’m a downtown pedestrian, so anything around there I can get to.

  6. strobie
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 4:10 am

    @turkfontaine Whoa, looks like I better go hit up Ed’s blog…

  7. Posted September 9, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Man, I feel bad — because I wasn’t even there! Damn plumbing!

  8. Posted September 9, 2010 at 4:43 am

    @Cat Don’t sweat it, Cat! You were there in spirit. :) We have lots of time to meet!

  9. harrycovair
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 7:51 am

    There’s a difference between working for a large corporation and working for a small group. In a large corporation you’re basically a number in the system and your task in the scope of things is to complete what you were hired to do along with your co-workers in your department or team and is probably not dependent upon the completion of another task in another section of the company.

    NSHNL on the other hand is a small group that is responsible for themselves. The staff there takes on many hats. Some go out to pound the pavement, take pictures and videos, and conduct an interview or two. In the background you’ve got the fiscal and operational guru (Diane) and the I.T. Chief (John) who are also doing double duty.

    That’s what makes NSHNL a unique organization. You all have to get tasks done in a precise manner. Not only do you meet and greet people but you also have to write up, edit, and produce your own article for publication. Sure there might be burps once in awhile but it looks like all of the NSHNL staff has fun while doing their tasks. I can only imagine the pressure to meet an editorial deadline.

    It’s not easy publishing a daily online magazine (am I using the correct term?) but I hope the readers out there appreciate your work. I for one enjoy reading the articles. Being an online magazine it’s even better when we can comment right away on a subject. TTFN!

  10. DianeSeo
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:36 am

    @turkfontaine Glad you appreciate the back story. That was my intent with starting this blog. I figured we’re kind of a unique experimental site, so why not go on this adventure with all the readers too. We want that kind of interaction on the site, so yes, I’ll be sharing, both the good and bad behind-the-scenes stories. We want people to get to know us, because the days of journalists just hiding behind their words is over. People want to know who’s behind what. It helps them relate to the content more.

  11. DianeSeo
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:38 am

    @Cat Yeah, we missed you. But they’ll be lots more meetings, get-togethers and eating. So don’t you worry!

  12. DianeSeo
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:40 am

    @harrycovair Thank you for your comments. It’s really great to hear from people out there and find out that they not only read what we’re doing but appreciate it. And yes, keep commenting… We love this dialogue. It’s definitely making this site interactive, which is what we want.

  13. Posted September 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

    It’s about community and if you don’t have it within the team, it will be difficult to build outside. Fortunately, this is not a problem for nonstop honolulu.

  14. Posted September 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Wow, Diane, what an inspiring story. I had never heard about that Forth Worth experience before. “Competitive isolation” — excellent phrase. Your blog is emerging as one of my favorites.

  15. Posted September 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Wow, Diane, what an inspiring story. I had never heard about that Fort Worth experience before. “Competitive isolation” — excellent phrase. Your blog is emerging as one of my favorites.

  16. DianeSeo
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    @NEENZ Wow Neenz. That’s a really good point. I never thought about it like that, but now I will. Anyway, thanks for helping us along.

  17. DianeSeo
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    @Andreas Thanks Andreas. This is my first blog, but I’m having fun with it. I didn’t think much about the Fort Worth experience until now, because I guess what’s happening now reminds me a little bit about that time. I was in “competitive isolation” for so many years, the most was when I worked in NYC and literally sat in a deserted cubicle and sometimes didn’t speak to anyone in the office all day!

About Diane Seo

Diane Seo, the editor and co-founder of Nonstop Honolulu, is the Digital Media director for Upspring Media. Prior, she served as managing producer of Metromix Honolulu; manager of The Honolulu Advertiser's TGIF section; Managing Director of New Media for the ATP, which runs men's professional tennis worldwide; a senior editor at and a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.

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