Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Insights into the hybrid print/digital newsroom

Second panel at the Online Journaism Symposium focuses on the hybrid newsroom, bringing together Chris Lloyd, Assistant Managing Editor, of The Daily Telegrah, Rich Meislin, Associate Managing Editor/Internet Publishing of The New York Times, Almar Latour, Managing Editor of the, Guillermo Franco, Editor of in Colombia and Liza Gross, Managing Editor/Presentation and Operations at The Miami Herald.
Lloyd touches on the theme of change, talking about how The Telegraph made its transformation from a print business to a media company across platforms, about the “pain and angst” of the process.
Key to this transformation was educating journalists in the need for change. This involved taking 25 journalists out of the newsroom for a week-long training programme over a period of 17 weeks to emphasize the need for change.
“We have to change the mindset of not only our journalists, but our whole organisation,” said Lloyd.
Rich Meislin of The New York Times talks about the road to closer integration between the web and print journalists over the past 10 years. Part of this is making the newspaper how the web audience of the NYT is different to the paper and making editors understand how to serve the needs of these audiences. For example, the travel section in the newspaper is useless if you are online trying to plan a journey online.
The challenges ahead are shifting towards a 24-hour publishing cycle and a “publish when ready” attitude.
Almar Latour of The Wall Street Journal talks about some of the issues at the paper of bringing the print and web sides together.
What is surprising to hear is that the web team is still trying to persuade reporters to file online and to break news online, rather than holding back stories for the paper. It serves to highlight the issue of cultural change which is emerging as a major theme at this conference.
Liza Gross of The Miami Herald takes the stage to talk about how it is shifting from a print product with 350 journalists to an organisation working across platforms.
She says the key to this operation is the continuous news desk is key, which she describes as the brains, heart and marketplace of ideas for the Herald.
The continuous news desk is where all news decisions are made such as how to best tell our stories and on what platforms. It includes representatives of all key desks and directs news coverage. This has been working much better for daily news coverage than long-term planning.
One interesting aspect is that the Herald now has some 40 deadlines over the day, across web, cellphone, radio and print. This is a major shift from a print organisation with just a handful of deadlines.
For a slightly different perspective, on comes Guillermo Franco from in Colombia. This is a large media group which reaches 5.2m people across the country through its range of outlets in print, online and TV
Franco talks about the benefits of physical integration, that by bringing everyone together under same room has “increased our collective intelligence”.
But what is more interesting is how the content side has been reorganised into thematic teams work in areas such as city, sports, business. These function as internal as news wire agencies servicing the product side of the business, with a database that holds all the content.
In practice, any outlet can take content in real time from the database, and it can only request specific content from the thematic teams.
Interestingly, he also focuses on the issue of cultural change as the biggest obstacle in the newsroom.
And he also adds that El Tiempo is not trying to train every journalist to do everything. Rather, it is looking to have journalists who have more than one skill, such as writing in print, in order to be able to tell stories across platforms.


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