At last week's New Business Models for News Summit, I was in a group charged with creating a hypothetical newsroom budget with no real guidance on what it would produce. After much debate about whether this hypothetical newsroom still had to produce a newspaper or just an online news site, we decided it would be the newsroom left standing after a major metropolitan newspaper stopped publishing in print. We quickly realized that we'd need to reduce the size of the newsroom from 200 to about 35, given the revenue we could expect from this hypothetical site generating 75 million pageviews a month. A sobering thought. And none of the budget was allocated to creating a news product that might appeal to former newspaper readers. In fact, it seemed to be a given that newspaper sites spend too much time on design and should just be turning out content on basic blogging platforms.
They calculated the likely revenue Philadelphia could support online and then figured out what they could afford in staffing. Instead of the 200-300-person newsroom that has existed in print, they decided they could afford 35 and they broke that down to include a new job description: "community managers who do outreach, mediation, social media evangelism." They settled on three of those plus 20 content creators, two programmers, three designers, five producers (I think they were a bit heavy on those two), and -- get this -- only three editors. (Which led to much discussion in the final plenary of the day, which I address in the post below.)