Anthony Moor

Exploring Media in Transformation | Transforming in Media Exploration

/ˌtrænsfərˈmeɪʃən/ n. 1: a process of change from one form to another.

Filtering by Category: Newsroom Organization

Dallas launches stealth community sites

You haven't heard about it in the journalism trade press. You didn't see images on the design blogs. They haven't debated it on the business 2.0 sites. Maybe it's because we didn't invest in whizbang technology, dismantle our newsroom or hire Rob Curley. But the Dallas Morning News has launched a serious effort to cover news in 15 neighborhoods and towns in our region, using seasoned reporters, community home pages, aggregation tools, staff blogs and citizen input.
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So how will local news survive?

It's no secret I'm a fan of the way Buzzmachine's Jeff Jarvis thinks about news. He's ruthlessly honest about the facts all around us, incisive in his analysis of information trends and refreshingly original in how he frames solutions. I've read the recent criticisms about his style. Sure he's a bit of a gadfly and a self-promoter but don't let that obscure the message. What Jeff says and thinks about newsbears careful study, because he's often the first one to think it.

With that in mind, his recent roundup of thought on where local news is going is well worth reading. Headline: Local news will get smaller, networked, collaborative and distributed.

Six competencies for news organizations

Northwestern's increasingly prolific Media Management Center has released a terrific report on the skillsets we will need in the newsroom if we're to prosper in the future. I recommend reading the executive summary at least and asking yourself: Do I have one or more of these competencies?

Quoting the news release on the six recommended competencies:

  • The Platform Strategist: To capture market opportunities by leveraging content over and across multiple platforms, news organizations must understand the unique attributes and capabilities of each platform; know consumers and spot their unmet needs; understand their own strengths and offerings, and develop products accordingly.
  • The Marketer: News organizations need to think like the best marketers - carefully defining their brands and working to develop deep consumer engagement with them. The essential first step: identifying more clearly what differentiates them in the marketplace and determining what unique value and role they provide.
  • The Community Builder: News organizations need to become more expert community builders, using technology to help connect people around shared interests. Using the increased technological capacity for information-sharing between individuals and groups, news organizations can more effectively shape dialogue and enable consumers to link to discussions of increasingly wider context.
  • The Data Miner: News organizations that become expert data miners and managers can develop unmatched depth of insight about consumers that they can use to profitably deliver both personalized content and targeted advertising. They can also unlock the value of their current and archival content.
  • The Complete Storyteller: Digital technologies give news organizations a much broader palette and set of tools to use in their storytelling. It's not just text, photos and videos - it's a mix of all three plus interactivity, games, charts and much more. Excelling at these new kinds of storytelling is a competency that can differentiate news organizations from competitors.
  • The Entrepreneur: In this environment, news organizations must develop their ability to think like entrepreneurs and identify assets they can leverage and new services they can provide, by pursuing partnerships, experimenting smartly and developing new models of advertising.

Next steps for news

Jeff Jarvis asked attendees of his "New Models for News Summit" what kind of newsroom they would build if the paper went bust.

They calculated the likely revenue Philadelphia could support online and then figured out what they could afford in staffing. Instead of the 200-300-person newsroom that has existed in print, they decided they could afford 35 and they broke that down to include a new job description: “community managers who do outreach, mediation, social media evangelism.” They settled on three of those plus 20 content creators, two programmers, three designers, five producers... and — get this — only three editors.

Jarvis has a cure for curmudgeons

He says ignore them.

You see, the problem with curmudgeons and complainers is that its so easy for them hijack any discussion. For not to deal with their very grave concerns is to make you look careless. That’s the rhetorical trick: “You could be wrong, it could go wrong, answer me that!” And if you don’t? “Aha!” Well, the hour is far too late and the state of the industry far, far too desperate to waste time with these sideshows. They had their time and the objections needed to be addressed in that time. But I haven’t heard fresh objections in a few years. What I want to hear instead is fresh ideas; we must have more of those.

UNC J Prof tries his hand at being a Web editor

Writes Andy Bechtel:

As Henry Fuhrmann, the senior copy desk chief for the Web, told meon my first day: "Editing for online is like drinking water from a firehose."


What should the centerpiece on the site's home page be right now? In 30 minutes? An hour? What news merits a post on a reporter's blog, and what is worth a full-fledged story? Or is there a difference? Which stories should allow reader comments, and how do we handle those comments on stories? The answers are evolving as the medium evolves and challenges our news judgment.

Among the otherlessons learned:

    • Prepare to work hard
    • Be flexible
    • Understand search engine optimization

Techies talk about newspaper bloggers

The Houston Chronicle's tech reporter Dwight Silverman has appeared a couple times on a podcast that I (and a zillion other Silicon Valley tech-obsessed digerati) listen tocalled This Week in Tech.

And on TWiTshow#150 here, Dwight and host Leo LaPorte along withWeblogs Inc. guru and Mahalo founder Jason Calacanisstarted talking about the future of newspapers in a digital era, about newspaper bloggers and the rise of advertorial editorial content. Download the show and zip in about 22 minutes and you'll hear them start talking on the subject. Quote from Dwight:

"We tell our writers to use their blogs to do their print jobs. If you take it and integrate it into your workflow, it works great."

Newsroom culture wars and the Web

The print-Webgenerational divide turned ugly recently following a post by an intern supporting the Tampa Tribune's editor. I noted it here.

Now Jay Rosen of pressthink tries to psychoanalyze the full-throated anger and animosity that's roiling in our industry.

We’re in pain and looking for a place to direct our anger [one commenter says]. Some chose to beam that rage at the young woman who identifies with the female boss. She’s not one of us, not really “of” the newsroom. She’s cheering one of them: the executives who screwed up our thing. Them: the know-nothing, misspelling bloggers. Them: our unpaid or lowly paid replacements. Them: generaton whoop-dee-Net. She’s one of them. Her post proves it!

This is boundary policing, in which deviant behavior is denounced and community bonds are renewed in a casting out motion. You can hear worse than casting out in comments like this. It’s almost newspaper revanchism, an irrational demand to restore the Kingdom of Print, and the suggestion of a monstrous, industry-wide lie preventing that restoration.

Ted's ten point plan to reinvent the newspaper business

Don't know if you saw this from former AOL exec Ted Leonsis, courtesy of Romanesko: My Ten Point Plan to Reinvent The Newspaper Business. Provocative, to say the least. For instance:

Get rid of senior editors. Turn them into algorithmic managers. Editors are passé. What is needed is a team of people that know how to work and create blog rolls and how to get the content up high into the algorithms so that when a consumer searches the newspaper's content it comes up high in the rankings. Knowing statistically what content gets the best click through across all media is a key deliverable... and having managers that understand the big algorithms in the sky will redefine journalism for our next generation and redefine circulation into syndication.

I think we need both.  In fact we've been trying to figure out how to create an audience manager or traffic manager -- someone who can devote attention to distributing our content better through more effective search engine optimization, and better 'platform targeting,' that is, sending text alerts or seeding links on blogs etc.

Cutting up the newsroom

Provocateur and former newspaperman Jeff Jarvis explores new ways of organizing our newsrooms to better serve the various platforms we're publishing on:

[I want to] explore the idea of breaking up a newsroom into two companies around two separate functions: gathering and packaging (that is, reporting and editing), each freed to work independently. That last bit is the important change: this means they can work with anyone. We separated them before by medium: print v. digital. But the public isn’t looking at the world that way, only the owners of media did. News is news. That’s why they are being merged back together. But when they are remerged, old roles, old models, old processes, and old politics tend to win out. Print is bigger and older and so it wins. And the organization doesn’t truly change.

Jeff isn't the first to suggest this, of course.  It's what Gannett's tried to do with hits info centers to some degree -- separating out the newsgathering role from the production role.

Check it out at: Cutting up the newsroom