Sunday, September 29, 2013

Inspired by The Bee

My visit to The Sacramento Bee offices on Friday confirmed for me that The Orion is on well on its way to becoming a digital-first news organization. I sat through the morning news meeting, met lots of reporters and editors, and had great talks with Tom Negrete, manager of innovation and news operations, and Joyce Terhaar, the executive editor.

What I saw and heard got me thinking about a couple of things:

• The Bee has a full-time person who manages its social media effort and uses real-time data to keep an eye on what readers are responding to on the Bee's website. He even makes adjustments to the home page based on the traffic he sees. I think a job like that would be a good addition at The Orion.

• When I described to Terhaar The Orion's ideal reporting process of Tweeting about an event or story, writing something brief to post on and then writing a longer piece for the print paper, she said that's exactly what they're doing at The Bee.

• Another full-time job at The Bee is a reporter who works primarily with data. Phillip Reese told me The Bee has hundreds of databases reporters at the paper use to develop stories. Both Terhaar and Negrete told me data journalism is one of the skills journalism graduates should be bringing with them into the job world. It'd be great to see The Orion doing more of it.

• The Bee has a photo gallery on its home page called Day in Pictures. Most of the photos I saw capture events in the Sacramento area that wouldn't usually require a print story. It's a great way to get ordinary people in the paper and keep the home page fresh. The Orion could do that, too.

• The morning meeting takes place in a room with a big white board on the wall on which editors have written page-one prospects a couple of weeks out. That sort of planning would be a welcome addition in Plumas 001.

What made my visit extra special were all the great things people had to say about The Orion's latest Bee summer interns. When I told people I advise The Orion, they offered wonderful compliments about Kacey Gardner, Anthony Siino (who is now working as an on-call copy editor there) and Ben Mullin. Joyce Terhaar, the executive editor, made a special point of asking if Chico State has more students like them who could join the paper next summer. That was really good to hear!

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