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Optimizing the newsroom - no quick fixes

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Optimizing the newsroom - no quick fixes

“We started two years ago and we are not ready yet.” Krach tells a familiar tale of two entirely separate editorial cultures for print and web and the “mistrust and ignorance” between them.

He sketched the familiar fears of expanding workloads and quality sacrificed for speed in a centralized digital newsroom and then boiled SZ's approach down to a three-step approach:

1) Define the task
2) Let people talk
3) Change things

“You have to ask them what is the strength of this section on the web and in print? So where do we want to go, and what are the requirements we have to fulfil to get there?”

Krach gave every section head the chance to make their own proposals and agreed to go with those unless they were unconvincing. The result is a single newsroom and a single brand, but as he points out, that involved 150 editorial staff and 13 workgroups in weekly meetings for more than six months - “supervised, moderated, and documented.... and then you live with the consequences.”

“The web is a pretext, not a goal” noted Thierry Meyer, Editor-in-Chief, 24heures, Switzerland. “We have to change the mindsets to be more like our end users.... while still keeping up print readers who make 95 percent of their revenues. Shall we say good luck.”

Doug WilksDoug WilksDoug Wilks, News Division Managing Editor, at Deseret News also underlined that in streamlining there will be losses. “Deseret News combined two newsrooms and there was bleeding with that.” He also pointed out that with reduced staff also comes the need to prioritize – even implementing a triage process about what and how to cover:

“We decided we were not features specialists. We built a contributor network, and combined that with wire service copy to fulfil features obligations”

It seems to be working – given that Wilks predicts the newsroom will eventually be entirely supported by digital.

Click here to see our recent interview with Thierry Meyer about 24heures evolving newsroom.


Steve Shipside


2015-10-06 10:45

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