Washington Post combines print and digital operations

Long after many other news organizations had merged their print and online operations, The Washington Post finally made its first step in that direction in spring 2009. Howard Kurtz, Post media critic and host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, told inVocus in an e-mail interview:

We’re all accustomed to writing for the Web by now. But that is increasingly becoming more important than ever, and yet we want to preserve the time to report and craft stories for the next day’s paper….For years Post reporters joked about what was dubbed MLE, or Multiple Layers of Editing, and in a tough financial climate that’s something we no longer need, if we ever did.

Read the full story at the inVocus Media Blog; you’ll need to search for “Washington Post” to find this article.

Focusing on newspapers’ strengths

In “Newspapers’ essential strengths,” David Carr emphasizes how important reporters and real journalists are to a generation that is quickly allowing newspapers and journalism to slip. “Even as newspapers are being attenuated,” he writes, “they are still the source of most of the reporting horsepower out there.” Carr acknowledges that changes are needed in newspaper business practices, but adds:

Newspapers and other print publications need to think about how they finance their work differently as well. But as the gap in balance sheets grows, there will be a growing gap in the things that the public doesn’t know, but probably should.

Strategies for retaining older readers as newspapers move to digital-only editions

In “How to use the Web to prevent remaining print readers From fleeing,” Steve Outing warns that newspapers cannot forget older readers as they transition to a digital future. Among his suggestions for easing the transition are to create digital replica editions; to use the print edition to drive readers to special online-only content (including multimedia); and to use the print edition to “publish excerpts and URLs to content from other online sources.”

Detroit’s new era of accessible news using digital delivery

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News are making changes and releasing news on the new technology of “e-reader” devices. Detroit will be the test market for news on the revolutionary reader produced by Plastic Logic and the new Kindle.

“We absolutely believe in the future of great newspapers, but we can no longer do business as usual,” said Dave Hunke, CEO of Detroit Media Partnership and Publisher of the Detroit Free Press. “These changes allow us to focus our resources on strengthening the content we provide readers instead of investing in paper, ink and fuel. They allow us to take a big step towards exciting new relationships with readers, subscribers and advertisers.”

To not leave behind less technologically-oriented senior citizens, DMP is introducing an outreach program that offers classes in basic computer use and expanding the copy sales at senior living communities.

“Our mission is to revolutionize the way people acquire, organize and consume information,” said Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta.

Leland Bassett and Tina Bassett of Detroit Media Partnership have the story, photos and videos.

55 useful Web sites

Graphicdesignr writes about visualizing data and highlights free and easy-to-use multimedia tools. His “55 websites you should know about” list is full of useful tools and suggestions for the journalist. Among the recommendations:

“Mashable: Social networking news; there’s something for everyone.”

Social networking and bookmarking:
“Facebook: who isn’t on Facebook these days, Join networks by city, school, employer, and interact with other users.”

RSS aggregators:
“Google Reader: Subscribe to and read blogs and news content.”

Blog platforms:
“WordPress: My favorite blog publishing system. Customizable in design and function, and easy to use.”

Other categories include Web editors, videos, photo editing, photo storage, timelines, slide shows, graphics, maps, and Geocodes.

Preparing for the digital newsroom

In the face of major shake-ups among print news operations, itor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing asks “what might a digital local news operation look like, and what tools and skills will be required?” Outing envisions smaller staffs, more bloggers and a community emphasis. The expectations for journalists will be changed as a result:

Here’s what the reporter/blogger will routinely do:

1. Long-form stories and features. But in this new environment, a reporter may do fewer of these because of other duties. And they may be in a variety of formats, from simple text and video to multimedia presentations, audio or podcasts.
2. Regular blog entries (basically short articles) through the day. The reporter in this organization doesn’t wait till all the facts are in when it’s a big breaking story, but reports what’s known quickly. Additional blog updates can be added as the news event progresses. (Again, don’t take “blog entry” to mean “text.” A reporter might post video or audio to the blog, as well.)
3. Instant updates. When relevant, a reporter will put out short alerts to mobile phone news alert subscribers; to an e-mail list; as a “tweet” on Twitter or brief report on other social networks to update the reporter’s “friends” and “followers,” etc. This can take but a minute (with proper systems in place to streamline the process), and then it’s on to the write-up for the blog.

Journalist Web sites growing in popularity

Rather than worrying about polishing their resumes today, many journalists pay more attention to updating their Web sites.  As Tony Rogers writes in “More reporters are creating their own Websites”:

Given the turmoil facing the news business, more and more reporters are starting their own websites or blogs, driven by the need not just to archive their work, but to create an online presence – a brand – for themselves.

John Tedesco, an investigative reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, told Rogers that “It’s important for journalists to have their own site to promote their work and have a kind of calling card on the Internet….When someone Googles your name, your site pops up. People can learn more about the kinds of stories you work on and find your contact information.”