10 Tips to strengthen your newsroom
Friday, November 8, 2013
Posted by: Laura Sellers-Earl
Some of the best advice comes from the ones who do it every
day. Take a look at what the nation’s top editors say are ways to improve your
By Anna Ortiz
Ball State University
Enhancing the story through multimedia. Danny Gawlowski, photo/video editor of The Seattle
Times, says text and visuals should not compete but enhance each other.
Gawlowski pointed to how his newspaper covered acidification in the Pacific
Ocean using a Web page to tie in several story elements. His advice: Tell good
stories with good tools. Consider how you can make the experience immersive.
Combine multimedia elements for a single experience.
Work with what you’ve got. Thomas Koetting, deputy managing editor at the Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel, said his newsroom has lost about half of its staff in the last six
years. Despite downsizing, the newspaper has won three Pulitzer Prizes in that
time. Pick what you do well and let go of what you don’t provide exclusively,
he says. Everyone has limited resources. Pick your shots.
Have leaders who think ahead. Kay Coyte, The Washington Post managing editor, said having an owner
who has deep pockets and out-of-the-box thinking doesn’t hurt. But even big
newsrooms need to learn how to move more nimbly to keep up with technology and
not be distracted by fads. Be
ready to use all platforms, even if you don’t know what that platform is yet.
Be an investigative newsroom that digs deep. Good, old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting
resonates with readers. Boil down the story and offer up strong analysis,
advised Coyte. Dig into complex issues that are important to everyone.
Embrace social media.
Jeni O’Malley, Associated Press Indiana news editor, said she sees social media
setting media companies apart in breaking news. There’s a lag time between when
a reporter leaves the scene and the news is posted. Don’t wait. Post early and
Be the source of breaking news in your community. Linda Negro, Evansville Courier & Press
managing editor, says be indispensible. Break news and present it in different
ways so readers have a choice how they consume the information.
Keep up with the community. Listen to what readers want, advises Negro. She said the Evansville
Courier & Press is striving to be a community source for what’s going on in
local education, events and other community news. A newsroom can’t just break
news, she says. They have to be the pulse of the community.
easy to understand. Make the news as
digestible by analyzing complex topics. The reader should not have to read 16
inches into the story to know what the story is about, Coyte said. Make it
easily understandable to the reader.
Virginia Black, senior writer and writing instructor of the South Bend Tribune,
says many newsrooms have cut training across the board. When the level of work
rises in one work group, it will in others.
Jeff Knox, director of photography at the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights,
Ill., says cross-training is essential in today’s newsroom. He says writers
should be trained in photography and photographers trained in writing.