What's the key to running an online newsroom that embraces features of Web 2.0? Friday's panel Leading a 21st Century Newsroom pointed to developing a relationship with the print side to create an understanding of how each medium is used differently.
Jim Brady, executive editor and vice president of washingtonpost.com, said initially no one in the print newsroom was interested in online. Now that the potential has been realized, newsrooms must learn how to train journalists in new technology.
Merging newsrooms required a move from the traditional newsroom structure, said Kinsey Wilson, executive editor of USA Today and USAToday.com. In terms of organization, Wilson said, "As we rethink things from the ground up, we're going to have to push responsibility down as far as possible." Compared with a traditional newsroom, management is more direct for the online version. The goal of USAToday.com's redesign was to link to other news sources, provide concise coverage and integrate social media tools.
Eric Easter, chief of digital strategy for EbonyJet.com, explained that the magazine world runs a very different kind of newsroom. When deciding how a monthly publication can produce timely content online, the solution was to do an online version only. "Readers have a closeness with the product," Easter said. "What kind of feeling are people going to have moving to a different format?" Easter's approach is to take the spirit of the publication in a new direction.
Panelists expanded on the organizational dilemmas in the shift to online. "Different people in the newsroom have different needs," said Wilson. Funding training for staff in different areas and designing the Web site are necessary steps. "Everybody wants a Web site, but they're very gun shy about spending the money to get it down," Easter said.
-- Emily Hanlon