NextNewsroom blog – Newsroom of the future panel

From NextNewsroom

Panelists (L-R):

Rusty Coats, director, Strategic Initiatives, Interactive Media for Media General, Inc.

Sharon Behl Brooks, Associate Professor of Communication Arts and English at Hastings College

Christian Oliver, INNOVATION Media Consulting Group

Robertson Barrett, Senior Vice President, Interactive and General Manager of

Moderator: Keith Hanadel, broadcast design director at HLW, a New York-based architecture and design firm


Hanadel: They’ve been trying to merge print and online for a long time, but now they’re “starting in earnest to merge the staffs.”

Oliver: There’s going to be more fragmentation and news staffs will have a diverse backgrounds like the panel.

Brooks: They’ve brought all their student media together, including the yearbook.

Coats: In the early days of convergence, all the talk was about print and broadcast working together. Since then, they’ve seen online become more important than both.

Fielded data is now huge and they’re realigning journalists around that. He cited when you search “911.”

NextNewsroom blog – Randy Covington

From NextNewsroom:

Randy Covington, IRFA Newsplex director

Newsplex participants come in thinking it’s about technology, but “really what we’re dealing with is how we view stories. News organizations have been production-centered (print or broadcast), that needs to change.

Example of innovation:

  • “Star Car” facilitates getting the Shelby Star’s content online. It has a high-powered cell phone antenna and can create a Wi-Fi field around the car. It has a dashcam and can stream live. (They have a newsroom of 17 and all of them are cross-platform journalists).
  • “From our perspective, it’s thinking about how we cover the news” and leading us to the realization of how to build it.

Newsplex has an initiative to determine new roles for the “Full Media Newsroom”

  • Newsflow editor: Story
  • Multiskilled journalist: Content
  • News resourcer: Context
  • Story builder: Experience

People ask, does everyone have to do this? No, he says.

Multiskilled journalist

  • A media “generalist”
  • Understands different formats; familiar with various technologies and equipment
  • (I missed the last attributes)

Example: Heidi McGuire, Gannett backpack journalist, Denver

“Heidi really likes to shape and control her own work.” There are Heidi McGuires coming out of schools and you even have some in your newsroom.

News resourcer

  • Informatics journalist/editor
  • Applies news judgment with a thorough understanding of the information landscape
  • Chief editorial information office

Librarians/researchers: “We need them more than we ever did.”

In the past, the researcher was seen as a gopher. He feels this person should be a leader.

Story builder
“We’re going back to the days of the front page.”

  • Combines roles of print copy editor and broadcast producer
  • Develops and deploys integrated packages across media streams
  • (more)

“It makes far more sense to have the same editor for more than one platform.” But, “it’s not one-size-fits-all.”

He’s looking for editors who understand different forms of storytelling and can give it depth.

Newsflow director

  • Directs coverage across formats and delivery services
  • Integrates multiple products under a unified editorial brand
  • Ensures service to broad range of news consumers

Three organization models:

The Tampa Tribune – Tampa Bay, Fla.; considered the model for convergence in the U.S.

The Nordjyske Medier (Aalborg, Denmark) – was a dying newspaper and needed to reinvent themselves. They decided they would create a 24-hour news channel, like the original CNN Headline News. They have daily newspapers, two radio stations, Web sites, etc.

  • Editorial staff of 248
  • Five “media conductors”
  • Editors for each medium “refine” the content
  • Editorial departments serve all media

They would charge 1,000 euros for visitors.

Daily Telegraph (London) – One of the visiting organization was The Daily Telegraph.

  • Story components from the starts
  • Ownership
  • Three job titles: reporter, editor, producer. They eliminated all the other “honorary” titles.

They used to have 13 editors look at each story.

NextNewsroom blog, live feed – Saf Fahim

Posted 1:44 P.M.

Saf Fahim, architect, Archronica speaking on the newsroom of the future:

“I think nesrooms need as much innovative as the organization all together. The community is now part of that structure.”

“It is a monumental task.”

“The process itself that we’ve learned is also elusive and difficult because how do you find a method that finds what the future is going to be like, it’s virtually an impossible task.”

“Any dogmatic vision does not work.” Organizations say they want to build the best media group there is, but that’s not possible.

“One of the major challenges is the timeframe your organization put” on the project.

“There is a fund role for research and without that, it is almost a suicidal attempt to put your money into a project and assume” your going to have something for the future.

“We don’t want to draw a conclusion of what the century is going to be, what the century wants us to do; it’s just brush strokes, what’s out there.”

It seems that software is taking over hardware

Citing map on screen, he says Europe is ahead. “Europe was modernizing very quickly.”

Japan is also taking “huge strides to go forward.”

1:54 P.M.

The U.S. had a very different profile in the 80s. “Innovation was not really a central focus. It was a backlash to the 60s and 70s, which were very progressive periods.”

Mergers after the dotcom bust failed to produce anything of substance in the world of media

His firm worked on “Media Organization of the 21st Century” with AP. They felt something need to be changed to catch up with time.

  • Showing image of AP concept newsroom from 1993: “Here you have an early sign of how and where you get the community involved within the operation.”
  • There would be morning interactions with the readers.
  • No fixed seats, large screens. “The newsroom [would] become a totally flexible place. There really is no reason we found that you should be sitting in particularly cubicle or one particularly office.”
  • “The place where people meet is very hostile,” for instance conference rooms. The atmosphere did not give a feeling of collegiate interaction.” They wanted a place where people could truly collaborate.

2:04 P.M.

They discovered they needed some kind of training facility to teach technology, organizational skills and structures and feel this is going to work for them.

So, they wanted to find a school but did not find what they were looking for. They went to Columbia — they weren’t interested. “All the universities with a big name in journalism did not want to be involved in the project. Only the new and upcoming schools [were interested].”

Fahim was asked to be involved in developing the curriculum. It was eventually determined that text was still important, but they also conceived what is now known as convergence.

What resulted was the Newsplex at the University of South Carolina.

  • “For us, as architects, it means an intelligent building. … A totally flexible building that the users change, occupy” and that how they conceived the Newsplex plans.
  • They found deficiencies in newsrooms, such as lighting and acoustics. They’ve addressed many of those issues in the Newsplex.
  • Many groups from Europe and elsewhere have gone there to train. The building was able to accommodate them.
  • The desks are movable and can be rearranged. The publisher is nearby and not isolated, which relates to what Chris O’Brien said about transparency in his introduction.
  • They created a cybrarian in the Newsplex after concluding that journalism should not stop at news but how to inform society.
  • They added bookshelves for old times sake.

After Newsplex, Archronica worked on projects in Malaysia and Greece.

“The mission of the journalist has changed.”

Q&A (posted 2:25 p.m.)

Q: Do you even need a physical newsroom when a backpack could be a newsroom?

Fahim: Don’t have to have a building, but you can learn by association.

“There is that collegian interface we found very critical within the location. If you dissolve the organization into community, how do you bring that together?”

How do you build what you need without a physical structure? You need to allow for easy exchange of ideas, such as conferences — a place where people can learn from each other.

No physical newsroom: “That’s a very interesting idea.”

Q from Gary Kebbel: What is the one thing that you find the most difficult when approaching newsrooms?

Fahim: “Change.”

People didn’t like the idea of moving desks. We didn’t suggest people lose personal space, because that’s very important for the creative process.

They proposed a personal space and a team space, each of which would be used when needed.

NextNewsroom liveblog – Intro

Chris O’Brien, project manager:

What we’ve learned about The Next Newsroom

  • Integrated
  • Innovative – “Everything will continue to change very rapidly” and you have be prepared to change.
  • Collaborative – Cultural changes needed
  • Adaptable – “You have to be able to experiment and move things around very quickly”
  • Transparent – “I think, in the coming years, the distinction of where the newsroom ends and where the community begins” will blur.

NextNewsroom conference

Two journalism conferences in two weeks, how much better can life get? (Especially because I’m getting reimbursed).

The NextNewsroom conferenceat Duke University looks to be one of most interesting journalism gathering I’ve been attended.

Don’t get me wrong, last week’s SPJ region 3 conference was great, and so were the past two and all other conventions I’ve been to, but none have been as focused as this:

“If you could build the ideal newsroom from scratch, what would it look like? We’re trying to help The Chronicle, the Duke University student newspaper, find an answer. Join our conversation.”

The event’s chief organizer, Chris O’Brien of the San Jose Mercury News, is bringing together professionals, professors, students and others to discuss all this.

I have all my usual gear, so look out for liveblogs, tweets and live video feeds (if I can borrow someone’s Mac and there’s an Internet connection).

Find out more about the project:

Weigh in: Describe your ideal “NextNewsroom” (answers may be posted to the Ning group).