Staff at the newly integrated Herald titles will see a website merger take place in the next few weeks. The Sunday Herald and Herald websites will come together to create www.heraldscotland.com. Similar plans were mooted as far back as October 2007 and major changes have taken place in the newspapers’ newsroom since Donald Martin took on a new editor-in-chief role.
Conde Nast has appointed three senior editorial managers as ‘channel managers’ to control content across its 12 websites. The trio will split responsibilities for fashion, beauty, and entertainment and lifestyle.
Pictures of ITN’s recently revamped newsroom.
The Times and the Sunday Times will remain ‘separate titles with separate staff’, says Sunday Times editor John Witherow.
Talks are ongoing, however, as to how the Sunday paper can be better represented on TimesOnline. At present the title drives a third of the site’s traffic.
Having separate newsrooms ‘has reached the end’, James Brady, WaPo’s site editor, has said following the appointment of Marcus Brauchli as executive editor.
A final decision is yet to be made, adds Brady, but a merger has been discussed ‘conceptually’ with Brauchli.
The New York Times and International Herald Tribune are discussing a merger of their websites to expand their international audience.
Plans include a co-branded international site for the publications.
The Hub and Spoke laying out may be in vogue for the majority of those adapting to an integrated newsroom but you’d be hard pressed to call Trinity Mirror’s Liverpool nerve centre anything other than an archipelago.
Alison Gow, deputy editor of Liverpool Daily Post, gave Journalism.co.uk a quick tour and explained how a partially rather than fully integrated newsroom for Liverpool’s Daily Post and Echo newspapers and a portfolio of weeklies served them best.
Similar to other large cities in the UK, Liverpool’s morning paper, the Liverpool Daily Post (typically 15,000 copies circulated per day) and the evening Echo (109,000) serve vastly different markets. To account for this the newsroom has integrated but also demarked areas where each paper’s interest is best served by not mixing processes.
The newsdesks of the Post & Echo had previously been fully integrated but the unsuccessful experiment lasted only 18 months and end in 2001, as it didn’t fully serve the needs each paper had and met with opposition from staff who were resistant to working on the other title.
“I suspect the industry is a lot more broad-minded now as we work across print, internet, TV and radio,” Gow told Journalism.co.uk.
The dailies and weekly newspapers have adapted and refined a partially integrated newsroom where the two main papers share news copy, but keep diary and features separate.
“A government minister in town would tend to be interviewed by a Post reporter,” Gow told Journalism.co.uk. “That copy would be sent by the Post newsdesk to the Echo newsdesk to be rewritten and subbed down. Echo page leads are around 350, Post 600 plus.
“The Post & Echo share a court reporter but the very distinct target audiences of both papers means what makes a splash in the Echo, gangster trials for example, may struggle to make a page lead in the Post.
“Inquests would be covered by one reporter whose copy would be shared between both papers.
“An exception would be Liverpool council meetings – mostly covered by the council reporters from both papers as it’s a contact-building exercise as much as anything.”
The Echo can also publish stories from the weeklies the day the papers are published, Gow added, as the assistant news editor has access to their content queues.
“It’s a co-operative system and involves the newsdesks, picturedesk and multimedia desks talking to each other. That’s why the command desk is so important,” added Gow.
At the centre of the archipelago – the big island – is the command desk where Post and Echo news editors and their deputies sit along with a picture editor who works across both publications and the Echo design editor.
Reporters are title specific, as are the features and sports teams, and both papers have separate features and sports editors and deputy editors, Arts editors and motoring editors.
A multimedia head, working across both titles, also sits on the command desk. As on the web, Gow says, the two publications have ‘more fluid identities’.
Each department desks now has embedded digital journalist. Under the old system ‘they just used to sit in the corner away from everyone else’ said Gow. Now they espouse the need for web content and ensure the website remains an area of focus for each department on each title now that they break 99 per cent of their stories online.
Video is a separate entity altogether – one video journalist is responsible for managing libraries, cutting pieces and training newsroom staff and reporters in video-journalism.
She has trained eight other staff so far, giving them a week’s hands-on training so that they can manage handicams and cut footage. They aim for a new web video each day.
A pool of eight subs work across the Echo, the England and Welsh Daily Posts, Huddersfield Examiner, the Chester Chronicle, the Merseyside and North Wales weekly papers on a rota basis.
There are also title-specific staff who work primarily for each paper – ‘champions’ of each brand, adds Gow.
This approach has shifted subs from thinking they work for a single publication, she said, to a ‘hive-mind’ where they work across several titles.
Once so controversial as the boss of The Mirror, over the last few years David Montgomery has reinvented himself as a European media mogul.
As head of the pan-European media company Mecom, Montgomery has emerged as an internet evangelist and one of the most optimistic advocates of a multimedia future.
This is good news for Lisbeth Knudsen, CEO and editor-in-chief of Mecom’s worst performing subsidiary.
Denmark’s Berlingske Media is the biggest publisher of daily newspapers in one of Europe’s toughest newspaper markets. Revenues of paid for dailies in Denmark have been ravaged by a costly two-year-long freesheet war.
When Montgomery bought the Danish company in 2006, it had a paltry 3.5 per cent profit margin – miles away from the 15 – 20 per cent Montgomery was promising his investors.
But it’s all grist to the mill for Knudsen, who rumour has it secured her job last spring by submitting the longest list of potential cost cuts.
Montgomery’s toughest general has been charged with justifying his professed faith in the profits to be made from the new media world.
“It is my task to deliver what I have promised, but also to tell Berlingske’s journalists that we have exciting times ahead of us. It is necessary for our survival that we start using new work processes, develop our journalism and launch new digital products. Old traditions are no longer enough,” Knudsen told Journalism.co.uk
Her first act as head of Berlingske was to publicly denounce Mecom’s profit demands as unrealistic.
Simultaneously, she made it crystal clear that the financial situation required radical changes, skilfully lowering the expectations of both her boss and the unions.
Central to those changes is integration. Not only converging media platforms, but also altering most of the company’s titles into ‘verticals’ that deliver copy across platforms and titles be they broadsheet, tabloid or regional newspapers.
Berlingske may have created one of the most integrated media operations in Europe, but it has also caused great concern among the company’s journalists about work flow, work culture and how it may erode the different media brands.
“Everyone has to be able to work and plan to all media platforms. Journalists get more resources to cover events in this way. Instead of sending three journalists from three different platforms or titles, we will now have one journalist cover the results of a football match, one live blogging it, and one writing the portrait of the game’s top scorer,” said Knudsen.
To ensure editorial standards, she added, each title will have a brand manager to makes sure it runs only content that is appropriate and in line with its specific values.
These assurances have not been enough, however, to assure the domestic journalists union. It has voiced continuous concern about merging titles, job cuts and the new ‘integrated’ work environment where journalists are confined to hot desks to create a paperless environment.
Knudsen says that new technology is necessary. Adding that the increase in the number of tools at the disposal of her reporters has also created many exciting new opportunities for journalists.
“This integration is necessary to survive. Journalists today have to accept that they have to fight for every pair of eyeballs. I accepted this job because I believe, both as a journalist and as CEO, we can create something great in this company,” she said.
Not here to please
As for her proprietor, she said: “It is my impression that you can have a discussion. If I am to be in charge of this, I have to believe in it. I have made it very clear that I’m not here to please. I have a very open and direct dialogue with the management about our goals and progress. During my thirty-something years in the newspaper industry I’ve encountered a lot of unprofessional owners. Mecom is a very professional owner, the company imposes certain demands to our revenues, but that is the way it has to be.”
David Montgomery may have got himself a straight shooter, but what impression is she likely to have made on her newsroom staff? It seems she is a journalististic champion who is both admired and feared.
“If anyone can stand up to Montgomery it is she. She is completely ruthless and resembles Montgomery in many ways. I cannot think of anyone in Danish media who dares to pick a fight with her,” said a journalist who has worked with Knudsen but did not wish to be named.
“But her journalistic integrity is above reproach. She is a journalistic champion.”
The paper will now operate with a central news desk to allow for ‘enhanced co-operation between print, web and Newswires journalists’, a memo from editor Robert Thomson has said.
Integrating newsrooms isn’t just a matter of putting all you desks in a spoke and fulcrum formation and projecting the web traffic figures on the wall.
The small matter of how you remunerate journalists expected to work both for print and web is an issue for newspapers across the globe.
It’s an issue that the Guardian and Telegraph, to name just two in the UK, have been wrestling with as they bring their divergent print and online editions closer together.
International editors sitting on a panel looking at whether integrated newsrooms are really working at the World Editors Forum, today in Goteborg, Sweden, admitted to a similar set of problems.
Jim Roberts, editor of digital news at the New York Times, told delegates that the Times’ own integration plans were hampered by the different contracts and lower pay web journalists were receiving compared to their print colleagues.
Roberts is overseeing the introduction of a ‘horizontal’ news production system where each separate news department has web producers embedded with them to encourage multimedia content production, oversee publication.
The Times is trying to spread multimedia, video, podcasts and interactive features across all its news verticals – even to the point where the Times is reverse publishing blog content as columns into the printed edition of the newspaper.
This drive for web content has also brought a renewed thirst to keep the newspaper print edition fresh, as Roberts said ‘to redirect this energy back into print’.
But as staff are now expected to work for both web and print, the different contracts they work under has led to union wrangles. WSJ.com managing editor Almar Latour and Javier Moreno, editor-in-chief of El Pais, Spain, agreed that they faced similar contractual problems on their integration projects.