Web vs. Print: More newsrooms embracing integration

One of the biggest subjects that emerged during the first year of this project was the issue of workflow. People want to know: “How?” They know what’s possible, but they’re not sure how to re-orient a newsroom or organize a new newsroom to do the things they want. That will be a big subject going forward for this next year. I’m going to be looking for examples of things people are trying to implement and new approaches to the Web and new ways to balance all the demands of multi-platform publishing.

But to get started, I wanted to highlight two interesting developments that occurred over the summer. They both point to the fact that there’s a clear trend toward newsrooms integrating their print and Web operations. Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of debate about whether to keep separate, whether to integrate, and if it’s the latter, how to create a new workflow.

Last year, I highlighted a lengthy profile of The Washington Post and its decision to attack the Web by creating two separate and distinct newsrooms. The feeling then was that by creating a separate space for online, it would be able to develop its own culture and ideas without the baggage from the old newsrooms. But that’s changing.

In July, the Post hired Marcus Brauchli to be the new editor. Washingtonpost.com editor Jim Brady said at the time that he expected the two newsrooms to merge, though details were still to be worked out. Brady’s remarks appeared in an Editor & Publisher piece on July 9, which unfortunately no longer appears to be online. But Juan Giner of Innovations posted about it here. And the Editors Weblog posted about it here and quoted Brady as saying:

“We have gotten as much out of it as we can. We need to be in one building so we can learn what the other does…. No decision has been made, but I think there is an agreement that we need to be together somewhere.” Concerning the differing styles of web and print, Brady is relaxed saying: “Most of the people in the paper have bought into the idea that the Web is different. I don’t think it is going to be that hard. I am not worried about anything.”

Just a week after Brauchli’s appointment was announced, his former newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, announced it was cutting 50 jobs as part of a push to combine editorial oversight for print and online.

The most dramatic result of that realignment at WSJ appeared this week when they unveiled a completely redesigned Web site. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.

What may be most important is not the actual design, although that’s outstanding. But note at the top, just below the Wall Street Journal logo, they’ve added something called “Journal Community” which allows for more user contributed content, profiles, and direct conversations between audience members. And when you click on an article, at the very top are tabs for “article” and “comments,” a design choice that gives almost equal weight to what readers are saying.

One of themes we looked at this past year was the need to put the community at the center of your newsroom. The WSJ redesign takes a big step toward embracing that goal.

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One Response

  1. The “How” is the biggest question we have. We feel it starts with the technology. We’ve had this print centric editorial system for 6 years now. We’ve done all we can to create a workflow that effortlessly regurgitates the printed product online. Although that has worked well with us we are now wrapping up a content management system based on Drupal that will serve our online and print needs with integration into InDesign. Our biggest challenge will be integrating the multimedia requirements into everybody’s schedules.

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