Spring 2012

‘Blowing Up the Newsroom’ (and Other Thoughts on Survival)

We invited members of the American Society of News Editors to say what one change they’d most like to make to their newspaper. Their answers ranged from a return to basics to breaking down the divide between editorial and advertising.

‘The Master Narrative’
I would push even harder than I did for every part of the paper—and website—to deal with the one or two or three subjects of paramount interest to the community. At Knight Ridder, we dubbed that "the master narrative." That would accomplish what hyperlocal partisans want: indispensable news available nowhere else. But, unlike hyperlocal, it doesn't require a huge staff focusing on miniscule subjects of interest to only one neighborhood and of zero interest to the rest of the readers. 

Jerry Ceppos
Former executive editor
San Jose Mercury News, Calif.
Former vice president, Knight Ridder



‘Link, Share, Team Up’
Only connect. Stop thinking you are a standalone news organization that must beat the others and start cooperating with other local, responsible news organizations. Link, share, team up. Serve your audience before you serve yourself.

Todd Benoit
Director of news and new media
Bangor Daily News, Me.



‘Thirst for Understanding’
It has been nearly a decade since I edited a newspaper but I continue to believe that the key to success is a news report that offers understanding of the world. Readers—people in general—thirst for understanding. All of us want to know why things are the way they are, and a good newspaper provides the explanations. A good explanation of a complicated or obscure issue comes to the reader like a cool glass of water on a hot day.

Lou Ureneck
Former editor
The Portland Press Herald, Me.



‘Marry the Knowledge’
Develop a synergy between the editorial and advertising departments regarding online projects by forming teams that include salespeople, editors and online designers. We need to marry the knowledge that the newsroom is gathering on how to connect with readers with advertising so that they can connect our advertisers with those readers.
Continue to move toward segregated products in print and online, with print becoming more of a newsmagazine format with in-depth reporting, features and analysis while spot news and the police blotter become almost solely the domain of the website.

Ken Tingley
Editor
The Post-Star, Glens Falls, N.Y.



‘More Failures’
In the process of blowing up the newsroom in almost every way, I would have made more demands, taken more risks, and accepted more failures. I would have understood that people use the thing that makes their lives easier and/or better, and I would have aimed my paper toward being that thing. I would find the three brightest, most creative people I could and tell them to come up with the next YouTube, eBay, Facebook, Groupon or Craigslist. I'd tell them not to worry about the technology. Give me something that will give people something they want and need.

John Robinson
Former editor
News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.


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