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Archive for June, 2014

Project Unbolt logoFrom the outset of Project Unbolt, a key goal was to produce a manual for other newsrooms to follow.

As I prepare to leave Digital First Media (tomorrow will be my last day), here is that manual, my recommendations for newsrooms to unbolt from the processes and culture of print. Our work on the project has not been as extensive as I had hoped, but I think we have produced a valid plan for accelerating the digital transformation of newsrooms. I hope my colleagues will continue the work and continue blogging about it.

Thanks to the editors and staffs of the four pilot newsrooms of Project Unbolt: the New Haven Register, Berkshire Eagle, News-Herald and El Paso Times. I applaud their willingness to change and experiment during a time of upheaval in our company and the industry.

Most of the manual is in earlier blog posts published here and elsewhere during the project. This post will summarize the important steps you need to take to transform your newsroom, with links to posts that elaborate on each of those points (some links appearing more than once because they relate to multiple points): (more…)

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Project Unbolt logoProject Unbolt is not about reorganizing your newsroom.

You may reorganize pieces or all of your newsroom in doing the work of Project Unbolt, but that is not the goal. We want to change how your newsroom works, not the org chart. Action changes newsrooms, not structure.

I’m not saying that structure is unimportant. But changes in structure should support your changes in what you do. They won’t drive the changes in how you work. I’ve been through too many newsroom reorganizations that accomplished nothing and I’ve worked for too many bosses (at the editor level and the CEO/publisher level) who got bogged down in pursuing organizational change without actually accomplishing change.

Some examples of how organizational change works effectively: (more…)

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Project Unbolt logoAn important step in changing your newsroom is assessing where you are now and what you need to do.

As we seek to unbolt Digital First Media newsrooms from the culture and processes of print, I suggest starting with a detailed assessment of your current processes and culture.

To start work with the four pilot newsrooms for Project Unbolt, I developed a questionnaire in Google Forms for each of the editors to complete. I said they could fill in the answers themselves or consult with other editors or the whole staff as long as they used the same process in answering the questions later to assess their progress.

The questions largely reflect the characteristics of an unbolted newsroom that I blogged in February. The assessment asks six to nine questions in each of the six primary areas where unbolting newsrooms need to transform:

  • News coverage and storytelling.
  • Processes and workflow.
  • Engagement.
  • Planning and management.
  • Mobile.
  • Standards.

For each question, the editor (or whoever is assessing) rates the newsroom on a scale of 1 to 5. I describe the 1 and the 5, and they decide where their newsroom is performing on the scale. For instance, one of the news coverage and storytelling questions asked: (more…)

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An important aspect of unbolting your newsroom from print culture and processes is shifting your priority to mobile.

In my latest post for the INMA Culture Change blog, I detail 10 steps toward a mobile-focused culture, responding to the American Press Institute report Unlocking mobile audience and revenue: New ideas and best practices.

 

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Continuing my series on live coverage as one of the most important steps in unbolting from the processes and culture of a print newsroom, here are 20 tips on live coverage: (more…)

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Tony Adamis, from his Twitter avatar

Tony Adamis, from his Twitter avatar

Continuing my series of posts about live coverage, this guest post is from Tony Adamis, editor of the Daily Freeman in Kingston, N.Y., from an email he sent last month about his staff’s recent work, with tweets, links, last names of staffers and a few comments added by me.

The Freeman isn’t one of the four Project Unbolt pilot newsrooms, but illustrates how other Digital First Media newsrooms are applying the techniques of the project. The message came a few weeks after the editors of the company’s Northeast newsrooms met in New Haven, discussing much of what we had done and learned so far in the project.

I like the variety of live coverage events mentioned in his email, especially the sensitive way the Freeman covered a soldier’s funeral.

I’ve blogged before about the importance of praise in leading a newsroom. This is an excellent example, with Tony dishing out specific praise by name to several staff members and then passing the praise up the line to his own bosses. (more…)

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Continuing my series of posts on live coverage, Breaking News Editor Tom Cleary explains how Digital First Media’s Connecticut breaking news team works. Newsrooms and clusters of newsrooms pursuing Project Unbolt need to cover breaking news live and should consider forming a breaking news team.  

Tom Cleary, photo linked from Connecticut Newsroom blog

In early February, just as Project Unbolt was getting underway at the New Haven Register, the DFM Connecticut breaking news and digital staff was reorganized. The breaking news team was expanded and a team of web producers was created, splitting the duties that were once carried out by one team. The reorganization was done to improve breaking news reporting and web production and also to allow town reporters to focus more on enterprise reporting.

The breaking news reporting team includes an editor, assistant editor and five reporters (three in New Haven, one in Torrington and one in Middletown). The team is tasked with covering statewide and local breaking news, freeing up town reporters that had mainly been handling those stories to work on day-to-day stories and enterprise pieces.

Here are a few examples of stories the breaking news team has covered, or helped with the coverage of, since it was revamped: (more…)

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