It’s the most difficult challenge for an editor who is charged with creating major change and disruption in a newsroom: to alter the culture and to inspire people for real discovery.
It is something I observe every time I visit a newsroom: the fear that some newspaper executives and editors have of change, of major disruption, of altering the status quo from what is to what could be.
Yet, our industry, and, specifically, newspapers, have never been in greater need of major disruption.
A series of articles by Poynter, deal with the issue. One in particular, posted recently, addresses the subject of the need for change clearly, through an interview with Audrey Cooper, editor of The San Francisco Chronicle. Ms. Cooper believes in the need for changing the newsroom culture and discusses it at length in the Poynter interview:
“It was the first thing I talked about in all of my interviews. People understand that culture is important and sometimes people say, ‘Oh change is really exciting, I really like helping organizations go through change.’ But anyone who’s been through a culture change knows it’s hard, and it can be really miserable.”
She adds something that is key to change in a newsroom today:
“You need to just assume that you’re in a constant state of change and be OK with it.”
As I remind my clients at all times, the positives of changing newsroom culture are not just those reflected in the product itself.
I have observed how change of culture in a newsroom is inspirational, even for veteran journalists (and I count myself among them). There is great inspiration and encouragement when we try and succeed while applying new techniques and ways of doing things. To be able to switch from a traditional mode of storytelling to one that is especially suitable for mobile devices, for example.
For the designer, to learn about the visual and tactile requirements of designing for the small screen of a smartphone.
To be able to use social media to provide us with story ideas, or to turn to new ways of presenting information visually when our products get into Snapchat Discover, for example.
But, as the Audrey Cooper mentions in her Poynter interview, a change of culture is a newsroom is not going to result from a well drafted memo or protocol that spells out the needed change.
It takes interaction among editors, inspiration from the top, and a commitment (perhaps a mandate) that change and disruption will take place.
Inspiring one member of the team at a time is a good strategy. Change of newsroom culture is personal, not institutional. Publishers and editors who understand that are the ones who succeed in their efforts.
The power of little ideas
“Sherwin-Williams … realized it’s not so much about the product — their product is a can of paint — it’s about their innovations around the product that make that product more valuable.”
SIPConnect 2017, to be held in Miami June 21-23, is a program of the Inter American Press Association, IAPA, or SIP (Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa). The venue will be the Hilton Miami Downtown Hotel.
Join us at the SIPConnect Hemispheric Conference 2017. Organized by the IAPA, SIPConnect is a gathering of media and digital businesses to encourage more audiences and higher revenues. It’s a laboratory for new ideas and successful experiences for the digital transformation. As in the 2016 successful meeting that was attended by media from the US, Latin America and the Caribbean, experts in digital businesses and representatives of innovative companies will participate in this event.
For more information: http://www.sipiapa.org/notas/1211078-llamado-sipconnect-2017