A leading challenge in unbolting newsrooms will be to help enterprise reporting break free of the “Sunday story.”
For decades, most newsrooms with Sunday papers target their best enterprise for that day, when space is generous and daily news is usually light and readers are likely to spend more time with the newspaper. But Sunday is an awful day for web traffic. Our digital audience is more engaged during the work week.
The Digital First approach to enterprise reporting has largely been to publish our Sunday stories online Saturday or Friday (if the reporter turns them in on time and we finish the editing early enough). But our best enterprise still gets muted impact with the digital audience, publishing on the weekend or late in the work week. And the content still generally revolves around a long text story that was planned for print.
Planning for enterprise stories needs to focus on how and when we tell the story digitally. Presentation of some of that content as a Sunday print story should be an afterthought (like digital planning often tends to be now). We might not develop a single approach that we use for all enterprise stories, but through experimentation develop a handful of approaches that work for different types of enterprise stories.
As I help Digital First Media newsrooms “unbolt” from our print workflow and culture in Project Unbolt, I have suggested that we develop some questions to consider in planning enterprise stories. I’m not suggesting that all these questions be considered for every story (it’s quite a long list), but some of them (and most or all of the umbrella topics below) should be considered for every story. Continue Reading »
Posted in Project Unbolt | 7 Comments »
Photo linked from Wikimedia
I’ve written about Project Unbolt for the new Culture Change blog of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association.
Some of the content will be familiar to readers of this blog, because it’s essentially an overview of Project Unbolt, which I announced here in January.
I took a new approach in this post, though, noting how deeply our corporate culture is rooted in being a newspaper factory:
I always loved working in a newspaper factory.
I worked in the newsroom, far away from the fast-moving machinery — unless you counted my typewriter keys as deadline approached. But I was well aware my building was a factory and my company a manufacturer.
You smelled ink when you walked into the building. You heard and felt the rumble when the press started. In the hallways and lunchrooms, the inky smears on clothing and skin identified the factory workers who turned my words and my colleagues’ work into the daily miracle.
Once, as editor of the Minot Daily News in 1992, I got to yell, “Stop the presses!” (You had to yell, by the way, or you wouldn’t be heard.)
Much as I loved the factories I’ve worked in, I also embrace my current professional challenge: “Unbolting” my company’s newsroom from the factory’s deadlines, culture, and processes. …
I hope you’ll read the whole post and become a regular reader of the Culture Change blog, where I’ll contribute every couple of months.
In the context of that blog, I needed to move on to the topic rather than elaborating on an old memory from the factory, but I’ll tell here briefly about the time I got to yell “Stop the presses!” (I’m operating from memory here, but I think I remember the details well.) Continue Reading »
Posted in Project Unbolt | Tagged Byron Dorgan, INMA, Kent Conrad, Minot Daily News, Project Unbolt, Quentin Burdick | 2 Comments »
An email from Christopher James brought an interesting perspective to Project Unbolt.
Chris is a former sports writer at the Berkshire Eagle, one of our Project Unbolt pilot newsrooms. He won a DFMie last year for sports writing, then took a job as sports editor at the Mountain Press in Sevier County, Tenn.
Here’s what Chris said in his email (which I’m using here with his permission):
I haven’t had the time to read all your unbolt posts, but they touch on a lot of themes I’m trying to emphasize here as well. So forgive me if you’ve spelled this out, but it seems to be the obvious, perhaps unsaid idea here is that the newspaper (or Tout or video or photograph or social networks) aren’t the products. They’re delivery services for the product which is good storytelling, journalism, etc. Continue Reading »
Posted in Project Unbolt | Tagged Christopher James, Project Unbolt | 2 Comments »
I must correct an error in a Jan. 31 blog post. After analyzing how I’d set a record for traffic on my blog in January, I closed by saying, “I think I can safely predict that I won’t be breaking this record in February.”
I was wrong. Even with three fewer days, I set another traffic record in February, passing the January figure of 35,739 late this afternoon. I’m at 35,851, with a good chance of passing 36K this evening. And no post that I published in February topped 500 views or made it into my top 10 most-viewed posts of the month. More than 90 percent of this record traffic came from my archives. Continue Reading »
Posted in Blogging advice | Tagged blog traffic | 2 Comments »
I was present for the deaths of two newspapers: The Des Moines Tribune in 1982 and the Kansas City Times 24 years ago today.
The first time I was an editor at the surviving paper, the Des Moines Register. It was rough watching our sister paper die and it was rougher watching 50-plus journalists on both staffs lose their jobs. But it was unquestionably better, if you kept your job, to work for the surviving paper.
In Kansas City, the death was shared between the two staffs. The evening paper was dying, but that was the Star. And the name of the surviving paper was the Star, so the Kansas City Times was dying, too.
The company pretended that both papers would live on somehow in the new morning Star. The final edition of the Times didn’t even merit an above-the-fold mention. The story is at the bottom of the page, with the bullshit headline: “Death of a newspaper? No, a grand rebirth”: Continue Reading »
Posted in Historic front pages | Tagged afternoon newspapers, Des Moines Register, Des Moines Tribune, Kansas City Star, Kansas City Times | 4 Comments »
Thanks to conservative Texas Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick for this illustration of why you should edit tweets with rigor:
Here’s what Patrick meant to tweet:
If you go to the original tweet now, though, here’s what you see: Continue Reading »
Posted in #twutorial series | 9 Comments »
Mike Crist, a Digital First Media colleague at the Delaware County Daily Times, asked recently about the importance of editing as newsrooms change:
Good question, actually. I answered in a few tweets, but said it would probably be worth a blog post. So here goes:
Everything has changed in newsrooms and Project Unbolt is designed to accelerate that change in Digital First newsrooms, “unbolting” from our newspaper-factory processes and developing new processes (and standards) for a newsroom primarily focused on producing digital content.
We still want rigorous editing, but how we edit will certainly change. If “rigor” means multiple layers of editing, like newspapers enjoyed back in the day, I believe that won’t be returning. Newsroom staff cuts have already reduced editing ranks, and Project Unbolt isn’t going to change that. If we’re successful in growing digital revenue, we can stop the staff reductions and perhaps grow someday. But unbolting needs to happen, whatever size staff we can maintain.
I do expect every journalist who handles any copy, starting with the reporter, to edit rigorously. Absolutely we need to write and edit grammatically and follow AP style (or a local newsroom’s style) in our stories. And verify our facts.
As I have noted before, reporters (and photojournalists who write cutlines and occasionally stories) need to take responsibility for the quality of their own writing. Continue Reading »
Posted in Project Unbolt | Tagged AP Style, editing, grammar, Mike Crist, verification | 6 Comments »