Yesterday's banner day food-wise was typical of how we've been going lately at the site. We put out a call for new writers at Chicagoist a few weeks back. Marcus and Jim are poring through the applications for general and A&E writers.
With the exception of a few tweaks I'll be working on with the other writers, I'm very pleased with our overall food and drink coverage. Laura Stolpman's become an amazing photographer and is handling the weekly events roundup, taking some load off my shoulders with regularly scheduled features. Anthony Todd and Rob Christopher are tag-teaming on the "Properly Sauced" cocktail column and are just starting to hit their stride re-creating favorite cocktails from the city's better bars and restaurants. Jacy Wojcik expressed an interest in switching to food and drink, so we placed her on a quick learning curve starting with Chicago Gourmet to combine her interest in this with her love of design to give some new facets to what we cover. They're all also very solid writers, which makes editing their copy a breeze.
That, and a lot of trial and error, has helped diversify our coverage to allow a better balance between original reviews and articles and posting to newsworthy links; expand the scope of our coverage past restaurant reviews into subjects that we feel are worthy of coverage such as slow food, sustainability, and agriculture issues; give the others a wide outlet for their work and opportunities for freelance work; and make me a better organized editor (although I still have a ways to go).
I try to check in with them weekly via e-mail (keeping Marcus informed, as well) to see what stories they're working on, hash out ideas for future coverage, and get updates on other stories we might be running behind on. And I'm almost always available via IM for them to pose questions. We've set up an editorial calendar where we can post updates to deadlines, press releases for news ideas and ETAs for openings, closings and events. The most important thing I try to remember is that they all write for the Chicagoist because they love writing for Chicagoist. I could demand that they stick with deadlines, but that appraoch tends to alienate volunteer writers. I love the work they do and make sure they know it; this is another thing I've picked up from trial and error. But they certainly deserve the kudos.