Can innovation and newsrooms co-exist?

June 10, 2009

Interesting point, and one which is elaborated upon here today.

Some excellent points raised by Scott Porad and although in essence I agree with the thrust of where he’s coming from, it remains true that British newsrooms – particularly for print publications – are still used to control-based management models, where journalists (the human resource) are not valued as highly as the end, printed, product. Do not enter expecting to see innovation.

Six things I have learned in my newsroom years, which would have been useful to know upon entering the newspaper and magazine print industry more than a decade ago, include:

1. You do not need to think too much, just report on what you’re told to report

2. Your news editor is likely to be looking for the next opportunity, so don’t expect any real mentoring

3. Protect your sources and portfolio – you’re only as good as your last story, after all

4. Sometimes it is better to be happy rather than right – silence is a valuable asset to retain in meetings

5. Most print publishing organisations are managed by the number-crunchers, not those who understand the News

6. Never believe the lie that there are 10 journalists queueing up to take your job – even in a recession. It’s crap.

I believe, far from the current economic downturn being disastrous for British journalism, it is actually a blessing: it is forcing management to re-evaluate their outdated, outworn business models, forcing journalists to engage with the digital age and seek alternative online portals to launch online careers, and shifting audiences are forcing senior editorial staff to consider the possibility that maybe – just maybe – newspapers might not be the last bastion of journalism after all. Shock, horror.

Great post from Porad. Would be interesting to see some newsroom journos considering innovation within their approach.

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