"Think Digital" Impact on the Newsroom Culture at Leading Dailies in 2015

Financial Times will reflect on the importance of multimedia journalism in 2015. Talking about the “big newsroom changes” at the financial leading news daily, Editor Lionel Barber emphasized that journalists need to “increasingly think in digital terms rather than putting a print product first” in 2015, Journalism.co.uk reported.

“When we think about stories and the way stories are put together, and the way editors talk to reporters, they need to think in a digital form,” Barber added, speaking at a Media Society event in London this week, according to report by Journalism.co.uk. “FT uses “the power of the internet” to make sure they have “ownership” over their stories, whether they are published first in the paper or go straight on the website. These days what you want to do most of all is brand your story. And you can actually go on television or the radio and [still] get all the credit.”

Barber stressed that journalists should also look beyond text to include video, images, data and graphics to be integrated early in the process. Structural changes in the newsroom will be made beginning first quarter of next year and steps have already been taken in this direction to make multimedia first. Journalists are being provided additional training with coding lessons to encourage collaboration in the newsroom and build closer relationship between editorial and commercial departments.

While print is definitely not dying according to FT, but they certainly do not plan to follow the footsteps of other media organizations that have spent lot of time focusing on digital efforts at the expense of print.

While the newspaper is changing, there is still a valuable complementary vehicle for digital proposition. Stressing on the importance of commentary and a strong op-ed section in the newspaper, Lionel said, “Journalists should rethink the way they approach news.”

According to a report by The Media Briefing, more newsroom culture changes are expected in 2015 at La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and Le Soir. Editors and managers from four European news organizations shared their views on newspapers shifting to the new digital landscape at the World Publishing Expo Newsroom Summit in Amsterdam recently.

Speaking about instilling a digital culture at La Stampa, digital editor Marco Bardazzi said, “The impact of bringing new people into the newsroom was the “contamination” of existing staff with ideas and approaches from developers and designers. Contamination comes from the new figures we have introduced, developers, designers and a few digital gurus we have picked. [It’s] positive contamination, the contamination of ideas.”

Trinity Mirror editor for digital innovation Alison Gow stressed on the “animosity” that exists between print and digital editorial staff as one of the major roadblocks to witnessing radical change. One of the key changes to be witnessed in the newsroom of Trinity Mirror in 2015 is embracing social media in a big way to make it “compulsory and not just something that’s nice to have.”

Gow added, “Social media is your judge and your jury, and they may not be @ing you, they are just talking about you. An active and engaging social media presence is expected, not requested.”

At Le Soir, a leading Belgian newspaper the newsroom culture revolves around the people who work in it. Tackling the print to digital transition with poise, Le Soir introduced a novel approach of injecting youth talent at its workplace with new hires. The newspaper recruited a dozen young journalists under 29 and gave them carte blanche to get involved across almost the whole paper – the only exception being the op-ed section that features on the front page, according to a report by The Media Briefing.

These new hires at Le Soir have managed to create an impact on the audience demographics by making the newspaper more reader-friendly among the young affluent readers in Belgium and Brussels as well.  The newspaper plans to partner with a Bank to further target young readers by offering free subscriptions in 2015.

Expressing positive hopes from changes in the newsroom through youth recruitment, Le Soir general manager and managing editor Didier Hamann said, “[The young journalists are] a new breath of coverage for the future. The working atmosphere, the old atmosphere is not very funny, now our working atmosphere is completely changed.”

By: Savita V Jayaram
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