Having finished my spiel at the UT Symposium on Online Journalism about reasons to be optimistic about journalism and other cockeyed ideas — including blowing up newsrooms — I’ve been listening to four leading lights of online journalism talk about their newsrooms: Jim Brady of WashingtonPost.com, Neil Chase of NYTimes.com, Bill Grueskin of WSJ.com, and Kinsey Wilson of USAToday.com. Not live-blogging; summarizing. You can watch it all here (it requires a download but it’s pretty nifty).
Brady talks about their separate operations at the Post that are coming together more and more — online people involved in projects at the start, paper people thinking multimedia — but he also reviews the advantages of separation, of having people who think and work first and foremost online. Chase tells the story of the merger of the Times’ newsrooms and shows how the memo and announcement didn’t make this happen but individuals with ideas and enthusiasm are. Grueskin, like Brady, recounts the advantages of separation but then tells how online is now helping print (some of their blog content has been better than some print and so they now distill those blogs for print). Wilson reviews the business imperative of their print/online merger and says they asked themselves if they were creating the business from scratch today (and it wasn’t that long ago they did create it from scratch, after all), how would the do it. They set it up so that online is clearly involved in all decisions in the newsroom, including managing resources. He tells how they are now pairing a couple of editors with a blogger who keeps an eye on what’s happening in the world while the editors worry about longer-term assigning.
As one of them said, they aren’t as different as they appear. They are all trying to find new and better ways to use the power online provides to do more journalism.