Home > future of journalism, journalism industry > Why the Future of Journalism Requires More than Personnel Restructuring

Why the Future of Journalism Requires More than Personnel Restructuring

My newsroom is being restructured. We’ve been told that we’re going to be focused on the digital product above all else and the reorganization includes three new positions that will be devoted to a digital product.

Matt Waite, one of the core developers of PolitiFact, wrote a blog post today at Neiman Journalim Lab called, “To build a digital future for news, developers must be able to hack at the core of old systems.” This isn’t directly related to my point here – that change has to come in the process, not just the people, involved in a transition to digital. But it is tangentially related: Waite’s main complaint is that the talk about transforming journalism to a web-based product is just talk until our content management systems have the ability to handle the rich media we want to create in them – until the developers can tear apart our standard CMS and rebuild it into something better, stronger and more agile.

Knowing that, it’s entirely understandable why many of the people who manage newspapers — who have gone their whole professional lives with this rhythmic production model consciously and subconsciously in their minds — would view the world through that prism.

Our newsroom has started to experiment with specialized news apps – we’ve ramped up the number and breadth of databases we provide, we’ve created an online community for local moms, we’ve constructed an online product exclusive for local prep sports coverage and we’re in the process of developing both an entertainment portal and a hyper-local news site.  However, like Waite mentions, we’ve had to build these almost entirely out of our main content management system because the CMS is built with traditional news reporting in mind and doesn’t have the ability for any of the interactive or rich media content we dream about.

We could make the argument that we’ve got the people, the knowledge and the passion to create a better multimedia experience for our web users. But until we have the buy-in from corporate that involves a CMS that allows for that kind of interactivity (or the permission to use our own choice in CMS, like our private server for Ledger Data or our niche sites on Ning and WordPress), we’re going to be stagnant and working against our own vendors.

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