Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to get a newsroom to cover stories live: Bring down the wall

If you work in a newsroom and/or care about news, I hope you are sitting down.

Because the Freeman is about to change.


As I mentioned before in a post you didn't read, I was tasked with coming up with a problem and try to find a solution (this is part of the Journal Register Company's IdeaLab).

Once again, I'll let Journal Register Company adviser and New York University Professor Jay Rosen explain:

So here's a problem.

Our website, as it stands right now when it comes to constant updates, is, well, kind of lame. Besides the latest updates, everything else is stagnant and static.

Right now, for a breaking news or a latest update, a reporter has write, say, one paragraph, and then this reporter has to tell an editor, who has to be in the newsroom. Then the editor has to drop everything he or she is doing, edit the item and post it online.

Our current newsroom culture, manpower issues and time constraints also are impediments. Our enthusiasm to do better, and a willingness to experiment are our assets.

So over the next couple of weeks, you'll see some big changes over at

Here's an example. This post on our site was written and posted by Freeman reporter Paul Kirby, without a middle man.

Most in the building still don't know this. But I've already empowered every Freeman reporter with the ability to break news online. We still need to train most reporters, meet with the copy desk and set up a proper protocol.

But we're in. All the way.

Still, there are valid concerns and worries. And we'll address those as we go along.

I would also would like you, our audience, to tell us what you think - what works, what doesn't, where do you think we should go and to tell me I'm crazy.

Yes, we're not the first ones and others have been doing this for some time now. We're not just playing catch-up, but we're trying to also be innovators.

So what's next? This:

UPDATE: Ex-Poughkeepsie Journal reporter Michael Woyton, who is now with points out that PoJo's being doing this for years, which I was told by former Freeman editor (and former Pojo reporter) Lindsay Suchow when I asked for points of reference, in a tweet. Others points of reference include the Financial Times' Alphaville, (thanks to Cate Long via Twitter).

And Kingston's own Arthur Zaczkiewicz told me on Facebook that, "Some business desks at Reuters, The Street, Bloomberg and MarketWatch, among others, allow that as a way to break news first. It's edited and updated as its goes."

So, of course, we are not the first. And we are under no delusion about this. As I've said before, we are simply trying to catch up.
Then, watch out.

Also, another newsroom culture change: Naming your competitors. BY NAME! CRAZY!