Creating a Web-centric newsroom
Now that we’ve shared a few our our ideas, let’s see yours! With the above video in mind, put the information into action. In the upcoming weeks:
Week 1: Plan a brainstorming session. It can be in your newsroom or on a camping trip or at an editor’s house. Make it fun and have lots of food. Make a list of all of the best ideas for how you can better implement the Web in your newsroom. It’s important that everyone is involved in the process.
Specifically, figure out how to (1) Start a Web-first workflow for all articles to be posted in a 24-hour news cycle, and (2) Generate Web-specific content like videos, slideshows and Twitter/Facebook/SMS updates. You can start a staff blog this week and write your first post about the ideas you brainstormed.
Week 2: Help every editor and reporter set up Google alerts for their section or beat as well as create a Twitter account to reach out to readers. At every budget meeting, require an aspect of every article pitch be based on feedback from readers on the Web. Start to build a strong community with your audience online and make sure it’s a two-way dialogue.
If you already have a Twitter account, this can be the week when you set up a system for publishing your editorial calendar for public feedback.
Weeks 3-6: Get out of the habit of updating your site once a day after the newspaper is printing. This is a huge step, so you’ll have to start slow. During this week, try not to post your articles online at 10 p.m. See how early you can post everything (and subsequently tweet the headlines), then figure out how your staff needs to shift roles to have a continuous flow of news throughout the day. This could mean changing the hours of your copy editors, changing deadlines for reporters and training everyone how to use the CMS.
Week 6-9: Really take control of live and breaking coverage. This can be as simple as posting event recaps (e.g. sports games, debates, concerts) online within a few hours after they’re over, because that’s when people will be looking. During those same events, post pictures and tweets that your readers will be interested in, and make sure to keep an eye on feedback from your users too.
Do they have questions? “Is #46 on the bench?” “How many people are at the concert?” Answer those questions. For breaking news like fires, robberies or protests, post as much information as you can as soon as you can. If it’s incomplete, that’s OK — but be accurate. Post updates as you go. Be sure to tweet the information too.
Week 9-12: After your staff starts to get comfortable with the Web, take on a big project like creating a system for an open editorial calendar, a continually updated news wiki or an iPhone app for readers on the go. All of your projects will feed on the other skills you’ve acquired: covering breaking news, thinking Web-first and encouraging community involvement.
Last but not least, report back! Let your peers know how your experiment went and what lessons you learned.