Designing the newsroom of the future isn’t fun

Thoughts on building a newsroom of the future from ground up. Both of these snippets are thoughts from a workshop at the New Business Models for News Summit at CUNY last month. No easy decisions … What would your plan look like?

Neil Budde:

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.

Jeff Jarvis:

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.)


  1. Why should the newsroom of the future be a newsroom? None of Nick Denton’s bloggers – a few of whom occasionally act like reporters in terms of gathering new facts – work in a newsroom.
    And why the surprise about editors? How about zero editors, and reporters are tasked with editing each other?
    And only three programmers? Whatever happened to the idea that programmers could be a multiplier on pageviews and reportorial power by automating many production tasks?

  2. I think we’ll see in 2009 someone at a fairly large traditional newspaper try something really creative focused on the online product instead of the print. Right now, I think most newspaper newsrooms are still fundamentally organized in order to put out a printed product. I’m thinking of something way beyond St. Pete’s recent reorg.

  3. The reality of the “death” of traditional newspapers is a sobering thought. It’s a hard thing for newspapers to compete with blogs and “to the minute” news online. I don’t think that newspapers will die out completely anytime soon though…the newsroom of the future may very well be just a smaller version of what it is today. After all, news is what helps to keep America free…
    “For my part I entertain a high idea of the utility of periodical publications; insomuch as I could heartily desire, copies of … magazines, as well as common Gazettes, might be spread through every city, town, and village in the United States. I consider such vehicles of knowledge more happily calculated than any other to preserve the liberty, stimulate the industry, and ameliorate the morals of a free and enlightened people.” -George Washington

  4. I agree it will be smaller, but it’ll have to be a different version; same only smaller won’t work. I like George’s thinking!

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