Live Blog from Day 1 of the Next Newsroom Conference

Live Blog: The Next Newsroom Conference (04/03/2008)
Powered by: CoveritLive
Saf Fahim, of Archronica Architects, has just started speaking.

One of the biggest challenges in creating a new organization is that folks aren’t given enough time to consider an ambitious plan.

It is almost a “suicidal task” to put your money in a task and assume you’ll come up with the perfect plan.
Many of the ideas that you see, sometimes from management, driven by cutting the size of the newsroom or just boosting circulation, are insufficient to think about a plan for a new newsroom.
We don’t want to draw a conclusion about what this century will be. Rather, look for “brush strokes” about what is out there.

Observe how people are interacting with media. Need to understand these patterns and trend first.

The importance of software over hardware is changing the way people consume media.

Europe and Asia appear to be taking huge strides over the U.S. when it comes to creating the newsroom of the future. Exceptions in the U.S.: the Washington Post and the Tampa Tribune/Media General.

In Asia: Japanese fascination with technology has spread over to China and India and new newsrooms being created there.
Innovation has not been a central focus of U.S. Newsrooms. Hurt by the dot-com collapse, and large-scale mergers. Those mergers failed to produce anything of substance.
Saf: In the 1990s, conducted a project with the Associated Press to create the media organization of the 21st century.
AP editor: I don’t want you to please anyone with this research. SAF: This was an unbelievable opportunity for us. Usually, folks say what they want the outcome to be and then want you to figure out how to get them there.
Showing a sketch from 1993 of newsroom plan for AP.
Feared that AP would throw them out the door. But only question was: Where would we put the phones?

SAF: A lot of the technology that we thought would be appropriate was not widely available back in 1993. Laptops costs thousands. We said don’t worry about the phones because they’ll be built into the computer.

SAF: Next step for AP: If we’re going to build this, we need a place to train them. We needed to find a school to train them. And there were none. They talked to columbia university, said they weren’t interested. Were turned down by big j-schools.
[Comment From gregflynn]
Direct weblinks would be great for viewing alongside video stream. It’s a little hard to google and scan for relevancy while watching and reading coveritlive.
Virginia Commonwealth agreed to take challenge on. Asked architects to also design the curriculum.
Showing photos of newsplex.
Check out more on the newsplex here:
[Comment From gregflynn]
I’m seeing the photos onscreen, slowly. Here’s some more for example:
Saf: Eventurally, Newsplex was built at the University of South Carolina. They merged school of communications with library sciences. But in new building, made sure they put in bookshelves to reassure everyone there would still be paper and books in the new facility.
Still need to train people how to work differently, and work differently together. There are many areas that need to be looked at very carefully.
Saf: It’s not enough to build a new newsroom. People will still find ways to fall back into old habits.
Len Witt asks: Why do we need a newsroom? Saf: We still learn by association. If you dissolve the organization, still have to find a way to bring people together to share lessons, learning and information.
Saf: How do you build a unified culture that understand branding and professionalism with a virtual interface?
Schools are good way to do that. So are conferences: Takes you away from daily life to exchange conferences. Having a place to share.
But likes question of do you need a building?
G. Kebbel: What do you find journalists are most resistant to?

Saf: Journalists still need personal space to be creative and innovative. We created carols for journalists to be alone. We thought, we need spaces to hide. Hiding is good thing sometimes.

Kath Sullivan: How did you feel about how people used it, in the ways intended and not intended?
Imagined putting up a screen in the newsroom that would show what everyone is working on, or creating. We put them in the newsroom. See the stories and paper as it takes shapes. Multimeida interface.
saf is done. taking a break.
We’re back. Just introduced Randy Covington, director of the Newsplex.

When Saf and Randy used to talk about much of this stuff seven years ago, they though we were crazy.


Randy: The affect on management focus and making a number every quarter, has been a negative on adapting newsrooms. More innovation is happening overseas.

If you go in and look at how a newsroom operaties, they’re organized around a production operation for either print or broadcast. That may have made sense once. Doesn’t now for 24/7.
Randy says: It’s about the storytelling!
Not the technology…
Randy: Citing some U.S. sucesses: Shelby Star, including the Shelby Star car.
Check out the star car here:
Edipresse Lausanne: pictures on screen now…

New roles for the full media newsrooM: newsflow editor/multiskilled journalist/newsresourcer/storybuilder.

Right now, news is an assembly line. We’re going to challenge that.
Does everyone need to be a media “generalist” or “multiskilled journalist.” No! The journalist with inside sources to the governor still matters. But you still need some “backpack journalists.”
At Shelby, everyone is a “backpack journalist.”
Randy says: Bring in the curmudgeons. They usually experience newsplex and go back and say: “It wasn’t what I thought it was.”
News resource: Librarians are going away from newsrooms, and that’s tragic. Google is not enough: Need news resourcer. Reporter in the field needs a “news resourcer.” Someone who applies news judgment with a through understanding of the information landscpae. A “chief editorial information officer.” This person should help shape the coverage: It’s a secret of a successful news organization.
Story builder is like the old re-write guy. Taking all the elements and bringing them together…
Susan K is asking about CoveritLive…
Newsflow coordination: We’d like to see the boss worried about all platforms.
[Comment From Kevin K.]
This sounds like a great model. But does any one do anything like this in the real world?
I think Randy is saying people are adopting bits and pieces: Not the whole enchilada yet.

Three models of organizations. Tampa Tribune/The Nordjyske Meier/Daily Telegraph. The DT represents best mode of converged newsroom today, according to Randy.

[Comment From Bryan M.]
I’m not aware of anyone who’s close to this, although Gannett and Atlanta J-C have moved toward portions of this – but I also hear there’s some resistance at various outlets.


Nordjyske Medier: Aalborg, Denmark.

…a dying newspaper that needed to reinvent themselves…So they decided to create an all news cable chanel: Tape 30 mins and just repeat that all day…
Have 248 journalists. Five “media conductors” Then an editor for each medium to “refine” the content. Each department serves all media.
Nordjyske started charging tourists and vistors to charge. 1,000 Euros!
Showing DT newsroom: Video on DT can be seen here:
Analyzed number of editors who looked at stories: 13 on average at old DT.
Randy now showing his own DT video…
Daily Telegraphs journalist says: The days of the long lunch break are over…
DT editor: Storytelling is three dimensional…
Update: Working on getting live stream back…
Newsroom of the future panel starting now…
And we think the live stream is up…
And live blogging is back…
Rob Barrett is talking about LA Times…Web and print were separate. But a merger of staffs is underwyay..
Break from live blogging while I find an outlet..!
Ah, outlet found.
All powerpoints will be posted after the conference!
[Comment From gregflynn]
Thanks for the DT URL. 1000 euros? That’s a lot of $$ at current rates. UStream feed is “Off air”

Christian Oliver: Media fragmentation means we’re all increasingly different. Panelist have different background. Can’t have symphony with all violins. You need people who are from different backgrounds.

Sharon from Hastings on tap: She came in from broadcast background.
Hastings uses the superdesk, along the lines of what Covington describes. Online, print, broadcast and Yearbook. Yes, Yearbook. Part of the news discussion, about to document and archive news to make sense of it later.
Rusty says: We have the architecture of HG Wells but the operation of Blade Runner. Utopian vs. Dystoptian.
Hey folks: We’re working on getting sound back.
Hanadel: Asks the question: Why do we need a newsroom.
Notes his teenager interviews people in Halo. Can’t it just be virtual?
[Comment From Bryan M.]
Clarification: He didn’t say his teenager did the interviewing, but there’s “a guy” who interviews people on Halo.
Rusty: I don’t want to elect a president based on a video game. Synthesizing information is a skill.

Christian: There’s a reason we’re here and not in Second Life.

Rob Barrett: People ask: if there are 20,000 blogs in the LA Times area. Why do I need the LA Times?
RB: People are using other online tools — not LA Times — to organize their community.So  why aren’t we obsolete?  We went out to talk to folks about how they get  info, how  they use media… Â

RB: We want to move to hosting those conversations in the comments. Helps us know what people are talking about. Can be used to jump off for other kinds of journalism. Do they need to be in a newsroom to do this? Not necessarily…


KH: Can journalists no longer understand how they make money?


KH: What happens to craft? Are we witnessing the death of a discipline?

Sharon: If we only look at this as a medium to deliver an audience to advertisers, what does that mean for quality of civic life?
Roats agrees with @GRUppMI: it’s about an evolution of the discipline. We know more about who reads us.
RC: That exposure is brand news for journalists. Things like most commented, more emailed, are not necessarily about out best journalism.
RC: Story commenting: How long before this stray off topic, or get uncivil?
[Comment From S Bhatt]
With the rise of the Web, what benefits do newspapers provide that we are most at risk of losing? We keep hearing about all the benefits of the online media in storytelling and in measuring the audience, but is anything precious being lost that we need to keep our eye on?
KH: Media’s sacred ground as convener, or keeper’s of faith?

KH: A real conversation about new journalistic ethics is ongoing, yes?

RB: It’s more fundamental than that. People come to our site, read one story and leave. How do we get them to stay? People can go lots of places to get info. Question is how can you manage this? And what value are you adding?
RB: Blogs don’t necessarily have time to go out and follow up with certainly newsmakers, sometimes. I’d rather have a better conversation than more page view. People appreciate that and will come back.
Thank you for reading today.

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