There are a lot of people talking about business models and the web. How has the news gathering process changed? How do we best utilise the new technologies? How do we think of news as a process, not a product.
But for those of us who started in the print world, most of these people are leaving one element out. There’s lots of talk about the web and barely any talk about the newspaper – except to say that the printed product is done for.
So here’s my question:
If you were starting a newspaper from scratch, today, how would you run your newsroom?
Assume that there IS a printed product; a daily paper, a free sheet or two, a property and business supplement, a what’s on pullout maybe, as well as the online offering.
How would you staff it?
I think there are three core stages:
- news gathering (in which I would include the writing of the story, creation of video, pictures)
- honing (the casting of a critical second eye, consideration of legal issues, editorial angles, things the reporter might have missed, extra details that will make the story better)
- packaging: how the story is displayed, online and in print
There’s obviously a subtext here: the viability or otherwise of sub-editing in the new world. I think there’s still a role (as I have said before) for editorial judgement as well as the obvious need for design, both online and in paper.
But if the news creation model is changing elsewhere on the editorial floor, does it need to change in the production department too? And if so how? My key questions:
- Should reporters upload straight to the web?
- Who ‘hones’ the copy: newsdesk? If so, does it need to be done again?
- If the copy’s been honed for the web, does it need redoing for the paper? If so, who should do it?
- If we trust reporters to edit their own video, why don’t we trust them to edit their own content? (Or should that question should be: if we don’t trust them to edit their own content, why do we trust them to edit their own video?)
- Should reporters write to box? If so, who checks their copy? Who creates the box?
- Do we abandon page design completely, stick to a set number of free designed pages and create templates for the rest, or template everything?
I’m not sure I have any answers for these questions (although I have strong opinions about some of them!) and I’m sure there are other key issues I’ve not thought of. But I’d be interested to hear what you think….