Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sorting out platforms: News - Part 2

Where today's digital-first news comes together is sometimes called a converged newsroom. News organizations have reorganized themselves to make sure reporters, photographers, artists and videographers are producing content tailor-made for their websites, newscasts, newspapers and social media and that it arrives there in a timely way.

I've seen two approaches to convergence that I like a lot.

The Corsair at Pensacola State in Florida has been organized into five teams:
Enterprise Projects - in-depth, multi-source projects on issues mostly for the print paper
Community Conversation - blogs, editorials, social media, letters to the editor
Student Life - entertainment and lifestyle reporting
Multimedia - video, photo, graphics
Continuous News - breaking news for the web and the print paper

The continuous news team has assigned shifts, so there's always someone available to write a breaking story for the eCorsair, the paper's website. Those stories can also be rewritten as briefs for the weekly newspaper or become story ideas for other teams. Sports coverage and the calendar are both assigned to this team.

This structure's strength is making the eCorsair the primary focus of three teams (continuous news, community conversation and multimedia), which generate fresh content daily for the website and helps the paper continue that coverage into its newspaper. It requires a strong editor who can direct coverage and make good decisions about how to deploy the paper's resources.

The BBC newsroom takes a little different approachThere, all the stories from traditional reporters land on a central desk where editors direct them into live reporting and social media before they're aired on traditional TV and radio platforms.. All reporters, for example, are required to file something short and suitable for the Web whenever they file any sort of story, which keeps the BBC website constantly updated with breaking stories.

The BBC's central desk editors need to be more nimble than directive, recognizing what's important to the digital platforms and pushing news there but not really dictating traditional coverage. So the BBC scoops itself all the time and sees benefit to its traditional broadcasts from the immediate exposure online and on social media.

Either of these approaches could work for The Orion as it refocuses itself to be a digital-first newsroom.

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