journalism, mobile, news, publishing, socialmedia

The newsroom strategy of the now

Never mind a vision of a newsroom of the future, here’s The Telegraph’s latest digital strategy, via @theguardian.

Regardless of anything else the Telegraph has done or is doing, the strategy as described makes sense in a stripped-down newsroom environment.

It highlights a streamlined approach to production and workflows, moving “beyond the concept of “digital first”:

“The engine driving the content decisions is the 80 million worldwide unique users per month. But readers of the newspaper will not notice a difference, the paper is still a crown jewel.”

Staff have been told to embrace a new editorial ethos with five main elements:

  1. One integrated print/digital newsroom.
  2. Two shifts worked each day, one from 6am and one ending at midnight.
  3. Three speeds to work at, from fast for breaking news to slower for a feature.
  4. Four key skills for each journalist: social, video, analytics and search engine optimisation [SEO].
  5. Five deliverable ideas required from each desk each day: including one video, one shareable and one interactive

Overall, I don’t see an issue with this as a set of guidelines on how a newsroom should be forging forwards in 2014.

The shift patterns – an open-ended discussion, dependent on news publication/resource etc. – apart the rest appears a realistic appraisal of how news content should be produced in reaction to how news consumers are hungrily consuming. So my take on the above list, in order:

  • 1. Content creation shouldn’t be split between teams, content is content regardless of publishing platform, seems inefficient to have multiple teams working independently on content.
  • 2. Technically you could argue journalists are somewhat on duty 24/7 in the social sphere – clearly unworkable and unmanageable long-term, but flexibility in working practices has to be acknowledged. The news cycle doesn’t/shouldn’t revolve around print deadlines any more – at least as little as possible given legacy media production needs.
  • 3. Different types of story need a different set of technical skills, quicker reaction to in depth research, all clearly underpinned by journalistic standards, ethics and quality, see @martinbelam on this: Oh my word the Telegraph has given up on reporting the news!.
  • 4. Four key skills:
  • Social is a given for news publishing, both as a means of finding, searching for news, engaging with the audience and pushing out content and links to content;
  • video  is an accessible means of content and can’t be ignored, but tools and quality control important;
  • analytics are vital, even simple page view figures give an idea of the potential audience or interest or success of publishing process;
  • SEO follows as a basic requirement, understanding how to write for digital platforms, be it hard news, features, and sharing on different social platforms – all require SEO understanding.
  • 5. Targets are always decisive for content creation outside of print, the digital world can take endless content, but some sort of guide for journalists even if not 100% strict is required.

Following up on the issue of targets:

Further reading:

Jasper Jackson at The Media Briefing asked: Can the Telegraph build a digital business model to match its new editorial focus?

These editorial changes look set to put the Telegraph on the right path editorially, but it will be interesting to see if the newspaper can come up with a healthy digital business model to match.


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