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Jul 9, 2008

Newsroom economics

Ed: Newspapers have lost oligopoly control over circulation and the majority of the legacy content. Here is a model to rethink the newsroom.

Newsroom economics

Where would you put your money in a newsroom? ...

What follows us utter bullshit. Got that? I’m not saying this is accurate as to the current structure of newsrooms or what should follow. And I’m bad at spreadsheets. I just wanted to put something into little boxes to spark discussion. So I started with a fictional staffing of 100 people in a newsroom (or 100 percent of a current organization) and then cut 30 percent and moved things around.

(Here is a link to the spreadsheet on its own.)

The point of this exercise is only prioritization. Where you put your dollars is where you put your value. Money = mouth.
* So note that I increase spending on beat reporting.
* I increase investigative by 50 percent — but that still adds up to only 1.5 people or percent (and that’s probably generous, but I’m hoping for contributions just for some of that and I figure David Cohn will make that work at spot.us).
* I devote 10 full-time-equivalents to payments to a distributed blog network of citizen and former professional reporters (though note that with different accounting, the bloggers would get a share of ad revenue sold on their pages and so the cost would actually be nil).
* I add seven collaboration editors to build, manage, and support this network.
* I didn’t quite get rid of copy/sub editors as Roy Greenslade predicts their demise (and I agree). But I figured they’d be needed to teach copyediting to staff and citizens for awhile.
* National and international are handled via links. Do what you do best and link to the rest.
* Photographers are still important so I didn’t cut their ranks much. But note that I did not create separate job lines for various media. That’s because everyone in the newsroom will be trained to and will make all media. And folks outside can contribute all media. Need a picture of that office building? Ask the community for it and pay for the best.
* Entertainment, lifestyle, and the fluffy stuff can be handled by community and links.
* Local sports is local so I invested in that. National sports is a link away and handled better there than at any local paper.
* Opinion writers? Hah. No shortage of them.

Let me say it again. It’s bullshit; many holes here. But it’s my stake in the ground to prioritize and ascribe a value to the functions of journalism. Yours?


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