What are your organization’s gaps in producing and publishing continuously to meet audience needs? Take these assessments to find out.
Staffing and workflowSubscribe to Updates Most of us work in environments of shrinking budgets and rising digital expectations, when the inefficiencies that we might have tolerated in previous eras are no longer sustainable. We can’t afford to be covering the wrong things or doing it in formats that aren’t all that useful to our audiences. So we need to work on our batting average: If 20% of our staff’s effort is responsible for 80% of our performance, how can we learn from what’s working best and use that knowledge to change the rest of what we do? It starts with studying people, both inside and outside of our organization in search of answers to the following questions: What work are we doing, how are we doing it and how is it being received by the people we aim to serve?
Big Picture A primer on staffing and workflow
Most of the important things we can do to improve audience, revenue, and mission performance revolve around the daily work of the staff, which is a newsroom’s greatest resource: What should we do? Who should do it? When should we do it? And how should we do it?
Plan Strategic considerations around staffing and workflow
This case study offers useful insights on how staffing and workflow changes played out in the newsroom of a metro daily newspaper, including how the paper commissioned teams of front-line employees to develop its reorganization plan.
Quartz, the business news website, pioneered the term “obsession” to describe coverage areas that are impermanent and transcend traditional beat structure. A number of legacy newsrooms have taken inspiration from the concept in their beat reorganizations.
Do Tactics to improve staffing and workflow
Managing change is hard, especially in depleted news organizations serving communities often suspicious of their work. But it’s not impossible, as these Detroit business leaders explained to a room of local news publishers.
Here are 10 ideas to steal and adapt: From audience-focused initiatives to changing internal systems, these original case studies are the most-viewed in 2022 on BetterNews.org.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: To grow your online audience, push your staff away from a print mindset, adjust your workflows and cut stories that used to be valued for print reasons in order to pursue digitally-successful stories.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Shifting from a print-first publishing workflow to a digital-first process helps create and encourage an audience-first philosophy in newsrooms.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Online abuse is one of the largest threats journalists face. For the safety and wellness of our staff at The Seattle Times, it was important to create a clear online abuse policy to report incidents and a plan to respond. We think it could help you, too.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: WFAE and La Noticia both knew that immigration issues affecting Latinos in Charlotte needed more coverage. They decided the best way to address it was together.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Sacramento Bee used a SMART-goal setting process to find audiences willing to pay for its work.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: As part of a newsroom reorganization, The Philadelphia Inquirer built an audience development team to support its transition to a digital subscription business. It’s a team anchored by versatility and diversification. We wanted to create a data-informed newsroom (not data-led, as solid news judgment is just as important as ever) to achieve responsible reach and loyalty at scale for its journalism.
This article explores steps the newsroom took to establish the mini-publisher teams and the experiments they’ve run.
The New York Times built a tool based on Google Docs to manage their internal documentation. Now, you can use it in your newsroom too.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Detroit Free Press found a better way to serve one of its key audience segments — people hungry for coverage of the auto industry — than running a standard serialized project.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Miami Herald rewrote job descriptions for online producers — turning their role into “growth editors” — and empowered them to work with editors and reporters to focus on audience in assigning, reporting and producing stories.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Bay Area News Group streamlined communication using Slack by creating three #bigstory channels — announcement, feeds, and logistics. The process simplified how editors and reporters communicate during big, breaking stories. It also created sub-channel threads to keep the conversations separate and easy to follow.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Dallas Morning News dramatically improved headlines — and their performance — by letting everyone in on the action
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Carolina Public Press, a nonprofit investigative news outlet in North Carolina, created a spreadsheet to “score” each of its news stories for reach and impact — giving it the data and insight needed to improve its reporting, identify skill and capability gaps, and help its reporting reach more people and make a bigger difference.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Use annual events to experiment with storytelling approaches, form audience/content teams, and stretch resources.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel created — and continually updates — a list of newsroom activities that don’t contribute to its audience-centric strategy in an effort to find time and resources to devote to more meaningful tasks.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Bay Area News Group had moved to a digital first publishing platform but quickly realized some writers and editors were finding an audience for their content better than others. They realized they needed to get everyone on the same page — with a suite of digital content guides.
The NPR training team has produced this handy set of tips on how to use digital analytics to inform editorial decision-making, which you can share or adapt for your newsroom.
Many news organizations are using Slack, a popular team-based communication tool that combines the best of email and chat, to improve communication and collaboration. This primer was used as part of the Slack rollout out at one news organization.
Some ideas from leading digital publishers on using Slack to help foster efficient communication and manage aspects of newsroom workflow.
Ten tips from a leading search publication on how to write headlines that help attract audiences to the journalism you’ve worked so hard to create.
Match deadlines to audience windows, change shifts, and modify key editorial meetings in terms of timing, purpose and participation.
Use these steps to create – then execute – a roadmap by which to arrive at a true digital first workflow within a reasonable time frame.
Two essential tools are key to digital transformation: a universal budget and a communications app for messaging, coordination and file access. In addition, a key role (for an individual or team) is the ‘tool master’ who continually identifies tools that work.