20 tips to improve newsroom integration

Here are tips on how to enhance working relationships between online and print newsrooms, summarized from the CONNECTIONS session, “The NEW News Team,” by moderator Bill Mitchell, online editor of The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., with the help of panelists Fred Mann, general manager of Philly.com, Kris Hey, senior producer for news at OrlandoSentinel.com, and Mark Swendra, digital media director of the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News’ SavannahNow.

Here are tips on how to enhance working relationships between online and print newsrooms, summarized from the CONNECTIONS session, “The NEW News Team,” by moderator Bill Mitchell, online editor of The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., with the help of panelists Fred Mann, general manager of Philly.com, Kris Hey, senior producer for news at OrlandoSentinel.com, and Mark Swendra, digital media director of the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News’ SavannahNow.

I. Ten Mistakes We’ve Made (Pitfalls to Anticipate and Hopefully Avoid):

• Assuming everyone at the newspaper shares your Internet knowledge/enthusiasm.

• Omitting Web site collaboration/contributions from job descriptions of print staff.

• Relying on job descriptions as a guarantor of new media collaboration.

• Characterizing print as a dying industry. Drop references to “dead tree” editions.

• Appearing aloof, secretive, out of the way from the print newsroom.

• Failing to apply sufficient care and editing to a breaking online news story.

• Lapsing too readily into evangelist mode ? at the expense of good listening.

• Forgetting fundamental differences between print and online, e.g. reading vs. doing, browsing vs. searching, mass media vs. niche publishing.

• Overlooking potential new media champions among print staff.

• Letting possible failure inhibit the bold moves often required to achieve staff integration.

II. Ten Tactics We’ve Tried (Tricks that Mostly Worked):
• Locating Web staff as close as possible to the print colleagues. Assigning Web employees to newsroom teams or beats.

• Getting the print newsroom staff to take ownership of its Web site. Emphasizing how the Web doesn’t diminish good journalism, but strengthens it via multimedia enhancements.

• Recognizing that the newsroom may not share your interest in such non-news areas as city guides and classified verticals. Focus first on your site’s capacity to present news.

• Involving Web staff in the planning of a news story or feature.Getting everyone to ask how we can use the Web to enhance our storytelling ? before the reporting begins.

• Making sure Web staff has sufficient news background, and alerting print colleagues to the journalism credentials/skills of Web staff.

• Seeking newsroom advice on everything from Web site redesigns to new vendor launches. Nothing bridges a gap between the two worlds better than daily communication and the feeling that their opinion really matters.

• Providing formal Web-related training to print staff as needed.

• Providing formal print-related training to Web staff as needed.

• Interviewing print staff about problems they’re trying to address.

• Developing Web solutions to some of those print-based problems. Example: late sports scores on the Web with refer from print edition that went to press too early for scores.

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