Here’s how 5 newsrooms are modernizing their workflows - Reuters News Agency

Here’s how 5 newsrooms are modernizing their workflows

Oct 6, 2017

The digital age has demanded monumental change in the way newsrooms operate. The need to optimize workflows to satisfy the demand for content, and in turn the desire to reach new audiences across different platforms, makes it necessary to develop skills across different departments.

Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith observed that,

You’re now competing in an ecosystem where anyone can publish. Where, if you imagine that you’re the gatekeeper, if you sort of imagine that there are certain categories of information that we should keep our hands clean of, other people are going to publish it without the expertize, context, sophistication that a really great journalist can bring.”

With this in mind, we take a look at how different newsrooms are adapting their workflows in the digital space, varying from investing in skills to building collaborations.

1.The Economist: Breaking down walls in the newsroom

At The Economist, improving communication across departments was key to the social media team’s success. The team has seen a 55% increase in followers year-on-year. Prior to 2015, The Economist news editors, designers and data analysts were separated. Denise Law, head of strategic product development explains that much of their success came from amendments in workflow and the office space. The walls between departments were removed allowing an open spaced environment that fostered a workflow centered on constant feedback and teamwork. Colleagues from different departments are now able to sit and work closer together. Law explained the importance of nurturing a culture of feedback to help evolve the newsroom, ‘Our team is focused as much on building brand awareness as it is on fostering cultural change. We do this by getting stuff done, sharing the results with staff, encouraging them to give us feedback and showing them how we do it. We are, after all, a constantly evolving department. And we have evolved because of the help of correspondents and editors.’  

2. The New York Times: Investing in emerging skills

The New York Times has found a “deep desire among many reporters and editors to acquire news skills”. In The Report of the 2020 Group, The Times said that “no newsroom in the world has more journalists who can code”. Looking to the future The Times endeavours to expand its training to enable its reporters and editors to create “new kinds of knowledge, so that they are able to create digitally native journalism that meets Times standards of excellence”.  

3. Quartz: Optimizing data analytics

Reuters Institute research found that ‘editorial analytics are an evolving phenomenon’ which are helping to inform decision-making, evaluations of performance, and the development of workflows and new editorial products. Marta Cooper, the previous deputy growth editor at Quartz explains that, “[Audience data] is a central feature of our newsrooms. There is sufficient training for staff on how to make the most out of the analytics tools we use, so it’s easy for them to become part of a journalist’s daily workflow.” Traditional newsrooms such as the BBC are catching on to the value of data in re-organizing newsroom workflows. James Holden, marketing and audiences director at BBC News Group spoke about how the scheduling of news has changed since journalists have been provided real-time engagement data, helping them tailor their publishing schedules.  

4. & 5. The New York Daily News and ProPublica: Creating partnerships

Partnerships across newsrooms are also helping to alleviate strains on resources. The New York Daily News reporter, Sarah Ryley investigated the eviction of residents in New York for over a year, while juggling other responsibilities. After reaching out to ProPublica, Ryley was provided with three researchers to help with the time-consuming aspects of the research, a Spanish-speaking photographer to help with fieldwork, as well as the editorial advice. The result was a series of articles which led to ProPublica and the New York Daily News winning the Pulitzer Prize for public service. Robin Fields, managing editor of ProPublica said,

“By adding capacity to Sarah’s extraordinary expertize as a city reporter through research, editorial guidance and multimedia components, we sought to shine a brighter light on the abuses she had uncovered and maximize the potential for impact.”

To thrive, workflows must be adapted to embrace the changing technology landscape. Newsrooms all over the world are finding new ways to tackle this challenge, whether it’s integrating newsrooms, understanding data or creating partnerships. The trends we’ve seen have helped us create a go-to platform to facilitate your newsroom evolution.


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