Update with reactions at bottom of post.
Romenesko posted a memo from Gannett CEO Craig Dubow that outlines plans for the roll-out of a radical change in the newsroom environment at the company’s news outlets. Read the memo here. Comments below the fold. #
This is what Dubow said in his memo: #
The Information Center, frankly, is the newsroom of the future. It will fulfill today’s needs for a more flexible, broader-based approach to the information gathering process. And it will be platform agnostic: News and information will be delivered to the right media – be it newspapers, online, mobile, video or ones not yet invented – at the right time. Our customers will decide which they prefer. #The company has been piloting the program at 11 newspapers. #
What they found is remarkable: Breaking news on the Web and updating for the newspaper draws more people to both those media. Asking the community for help, gets it – and delivers the newspaper into the heart of community conversations once again. Rich and deep databases with local, local information gathered efficiently are central to the whole process. The changes impact all media, and the public has approved. Results include stronger newspapers, more popular Web sites and more opportunities to attract the customers advertisers want. #If you’re excited about new media and the possibilities for journalism, this kind of announcement is music to your ears. If you’re as yet uncertain about how much “new media” your student media should be training students for, this type of industry move should give you a clear indication. #
What I find interesting is that the concepts – web-first, databases, community involvement, multiple media – are all things we’ve been talking about for the last year (see this presentation: A lexicon for new media). And these are all things we’ll keep promoting as we try to prepare students and advisers for the future.
I hope to have lots more info about this move at Gannett in the coming days and weeks. I’m sure reaction will follow from the rest of the media world in the next week. For now, it’s a positive note to end the week after St. Louis. #
Sure, the New York Times, to much fanfare, announced it was combining its online and print newsrooms. The Miami Herald did, too, awhile back. But Gannett is the 6,000-pound gorilla. The future has arrived. Welcome to the future. #Update 2 (5:36 p.m. 11-03-06): Amy Gahran at e-media tidbits summarizes the memo and mentions some of the rumblings that are bound to come – Gannett “information centers”: Good for daily journalism?: #
At the SEJ conference last weekend, I heard rumblings of this from some reporters who work for papers where Gannett has been piloting this strategy. Word is from the front lines is that the idea is to convert newspapers into “local information centers.” It’s not a completely comfortable fit, said these journalists, and they expressed concerns about how this might affect the quality of Gannett’s in-depth reporting efforts. #I’ve been hearing these types of grumblings since the beginning of new media journalism. I suspect they’ll increase in the short term, at least until people figure out that a hobbled print product with minimal staff isn’t going to guarantee the quality of in-depth reporting (see the latest circulation numbers for that story). Gannett is at least trying to find a sustainable model to bring people to the product. #
Update 3 (10:10 p.m. 11-03-06): Doug Fisher points to a blog called Crowdsourcing.com, which is written by the author of the Wired story I linked to earlier today. He has more details on the Gannett restructuring: Gannett: the seven desks. #
Update 4 (6:40 p.m. 11-4-06): Dan Gillmor, an icon in citizen journalism, notes that the move might be seen as a cost-cutting measure, “but the company’s move is pathbreaking. It will just possibly change the newspaper industry, in a good way, forever.” #
Update 5 (12:54 p.m. 11-05-06): Steve Yelvington, who knows a thing or two about community-based journalism, says: “It’s role shift time. This is about engagement, convening community, utility, and thinking big about small. The ‘what’ and not just the ‘when’ and ‘how.’” #
Update 6 (10:54 a.m. 11-06-06): Jack Lail rounds up comments and says: “None of the Gannett Information Center ideas are particularly new, but are totally foreign subjects to news budget meetings and how newsrooms work. And the CEO of a major newspaper chain, whether driven by costs or conviction, has said, ‘Let’s do it.’ Somebody, somewhere, just stepped on the accelerator of change. and that’s a good thing.” ##