Emerging Themes

We’ve only been out in the field now a couple of weeks with our volunteers conducting interviews. But already, we’re beginning to hear some general ideas and themes mentioned over and over:

Flexibility: The newsroom of the future has to be flexible in both the short term, but also for the long run. In the short term, that means the ability to constant reconfigure, move things around, and allow maximum freedom for different people to come together to collaborate. In the long run, that means being able to constant update the infrastructure, and possibly the building itself.

When I was canvassing various folks in Silicon Valley for their thoughts on the newsroom of the future, I got a one-line reply from Stewart Brand, founder of the WELL and the Long Now Foundation. His advice for the next newsroom: “Have a dense compound of temporary buildings that are easy to rewire, rethink, replace.”

Transparency: There will need to be a new relationship with the public. Hard to say, of course, exactly what that looks like. But it’s a given that we live in an era where more people are becoming media creators, and not just consumers. They are savvy, and want to be a part of the process. And the newsroom needs a way to bring these people in. Is that through training? Collaboration? It’s important that the next newsroom embrace the public.

Innovation: We can’t know what the future will look like, of course. But we know that newspapers, and media, have entered an era of constant, and rapid, evolution. The past 150 years of newspapers have been relatively static by comparison. The next newsroom will have to be constantly reinventing itself and adapting.

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