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Archive for May 25th, 2012


I have recommended digital-first approaches recently to faculty and student media leaders at my alma mater, Texas Christian University, and the University of Oregon.

I am delighted that Emerald Media in Oregon has announced that it will be digital-first next year, stopping Monday-Friday daily newspaper publication in favor of a timely digital news approach and two weekly print magazines. The University of Georgia’s Red and Black shifted to digital first with its move to weekly print production last fall (I played no role there).

TCU will continue publishing the Daily Skiff (I am a former Skiff editor, spring semesters of 1975 and ’76) four days a week, but will produce all content first and primarily for digital platforms. “We are moving from some of the news being produced and distributed first on a digital platform to all of the news being produced digitally with the intent of distributing it first in real-time via a digital platform,” Schieffer School of Journalism Director John Lumpkin told me in an email.

Even where the changes involve cutting the frequency of print production, we should not regard these moves as cutbacks but as moving forward. “This step is critical to expanding news coverage for our audience, in addition to preparing students for the changes in our profession,” John said.

The Schieffer School set the stage for this move by launching a news website, tcu360, that operated largely independently of the Skiff and TCU News Now, the student TV operation. “We made the philosophical decision to go ‘digital first’ in the spring of 2011 by creating tcu360,” John said.

This is the direction student media need to go. Journalism students must prepare to work and compete in the digital news marketplace and journalism schools and student media must do a better job of preparing them. (more…)

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I have a fondness for copy editing and copy editors.

I learned more in my copy editing class than in any other course I took at Texas Christian University back in the 1970s (hat tip to my instructor, Jim Batts). I learned as much in my two years on the Des Moines Register’s copy desk, also in the ’70s, as I’ve learned any two years ever in my career. And I worked with an extraordinarily talented group there.

I got to be a pretty good copy editor and self-editor (I’m the only editor of this blog, though I often read a post to Mimi and occasionally she will read a post before publication). But still, copy editors saved me from embarrassment many a time in my reporting days (at the Omaha World-Herald, Sue Truax once asked gently about a drought story if I meant to say the city was encouraging water conservation rather than consumption. As embarrassing as that was, it was so much better than seeing it in print).

Copy editing is the quality control function of a newsroom, and quality matters. But the economics and workflow of the news business have changed, and copy editing must change, too.

Digital First newsrooms in Denver and the San Francisco Bay area have changed their copy-editing operations, as Steve Myers reported in some detail for Poynter. We’re trying two different approaches, each with fewer copy editors and fewer reads before a story is published online or in print. The Denver Post no longer has a copy desk; copy editing is handled by assigning editors (with some former copy editors moved to the assigning desks). The Bay Area News Group still has a copy-editing operation for all its newsrooms at the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., but some stories will get only one read there, rather than two, after being read by assigning editors. (more…)

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