You guys know my friend Scott Lewis. He has a lot of ideas. Many of them are good, a few are less good.
But one idea he had a while back that really worked out started with a desire to cut down on the daily deluge of emails. There was this new platform, Slack, he told us, where we could have interoffice discussions instead of using email. We could send files — like drafts of stories, and photos — using it too.
At first we gave the idea a lot of side-eye.
What is this weird thing Scott is making us do? We probably whispered to one another in corners of the office, or out on coffee runs.
But it quickly stuck.
In Slack, you can communicate with one person in a private channel, or in various groups oriented toward different issues or projects. We have a channel set up to hash out the schedule for the Morning Report, for example, and one solely for discussions about snacks in which I post a lot of links to stories about new Taco Bell menu items. The whole thing is searchable, so if you are really desperate to find that Quesalupa article I posted a few months back, for example, it’s easily accessible.
Another advantage Slack has over email is the ability to use emojis. This means that when a reporter sends me a message saying their story won’t be in by the deadline, I can send them, say, a dolphin, a bomb and a slice of cake — they’re often so confused and terrified that they end up powering through. On top of that, but we can even create our own emojis, which is how we wound up with a tiny cartoon replica of Michael Turko’s face. The local journalist is beloved around the office — if someone mentions that they locked down a key interview, or we find out a previous story just produced some big result, the reward is a mustachioed Turko emoji.
The only drawback to Slack is a worst-case scenario that’s been driven home the last couple of months thanks to Gawker’s bizarre courtroom showdown with Hulk Hogan. Gawker’s internal Slack conversations became public once the company was sued and relevant communications became part of the lawsuit. “Now the whole world knows how corny I am,” one former Gawker writer lamented in a piece about the case.
So far, that hasn’t deterred us. Now when Scott has a weird idea, we whisper about it to one another in various Slack channels. If you sue us, you’ll see. (JUST KIDDING, PLEASE DON’T!)
What VOSD Learned This Week
A good sequel to the revelation that San Diego has too much water in a drought: After water officials across Southern California rushed to build multimillion-dollar water treatment plans, many of those facilities are operating at a fraction of their capacity or even sitting idle.
New numbers that detail the scope of San Diego’s homeless population were released on Friday. (Remember, though, that there are plenty of homeless folks left out by the count.)
Lisa Halverstadt rounded up some of the new initiatives under way across the city and county aimed at addressing homelessness, and why leaders are cautiously optimistic that San Diego’s efforts are headed in the right direction.
Stay tuned for more from Halverstadt this week on what the latest numbers mean.
San Ysidro residents aren’t satisfied with the responses and resources they’ve gotten after repeatedly raising the alarm over pollution from idling cars at the border. So they’re taking things into their own hands – commissioning an air-quality study that they hope will help them identify the scope of the problem.
Meanwhile, a Marine veteran living in Tijuana after a “soft deportation” has gained his citizenship and been allowed back into the United States, a move that could open the door for other deported veterans back into the country they served.
They’re both coastal districts where growth and development issues loom large: That is, City Council District 1, where both Democrat Barbara Bry and Republican Ray Ellis are playing up their business backgrounds, and county supervisor District 3, where Democrat Dave Roberts is trying to hang onto his seat on a GOP-heavy board that could see some big changes over the next decade.
Daaaaaaaaaaamn, Kinsee. That was my reaction to listening to Kinsee Morlan’s amazing new Culturecast podcast, focused on a gentrifying Barrio Logan.
What I’m Reading
• A former senator and longtime civil rights leader wrote a wonderful essay about finding love again after a long and happy marriage. This time, it’s with a man. (New York Times)
• Denny Hastert’s small hometown grapples with the former speaker’s fall. (Roll Call)
• The rise of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which has arguably eclipsed the Michelin guide as the arbiter of culinary genius. (GQ)
• Angela Flournoy wrote one of my favorite novels of the past year, “The Turner House.” Now Doree Shafrir has written one of my favorite recent profiles, about Flournoy. Bonus points for the shout-outs to USC and PostBourgie. (Buzzfeed)
• Great writing certainly isn’t confined to serious subjects. This rant against a particularly terrible University of Phoenix commercial is delightful, hysterical, all the other superlatives. (The Toast)
• DeAndre Levy, a linebacker for the Detroit Lions, wrote a great essay about sexual violence and consent – and why more men should talk about it. (The Players Tribune)
Line of the Week
“We have got to stop talking and move. So I leave you with this: it is time to wake up, get up, step up or shut up.” – Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, in a speech to the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.