TAKEAWAY: The real rethinking of a media house involves more than the redesign of its products. It also should include a rethinking of the newsroom and how editors and journalists sit and interact with each other. At the New Straits Times, the changes are obvious through the sounds of hammers and saws in action. Take a peek. The fish tank? Almost gone.
The fish tank which was the centerpiece of the NST newsroom slowly disappears. Photos by Consti Eberle
This week: Reporting from Kuala Lumpur and the newsroom of the English-language daily, New Straits Times.
New is the right word in the title of this daily, which is now undergoing dramatic changes, culminating with a relaunch 11-11-11, only a few weeks away.
Our Garcia Media art director, Consti Eberle, and I, are here to give the project a final push. We have been working with the NST team for almost six months, across platforms.
This project includes the total rethinking of the printed edition of the newspaper, with changes in all digital platforms: mobile, online and the iPad tablet.
Readers will find the same friendly and informative newspaper they are accustomed to, but will also notice many dramatic changes, from the logo, to the navigational devices on section pages, starting on page one, to the way stories are presented, hierarchy emphasized and secondary readings introduced.
But we leave some of the surprises for next month, when the new NST will come out.
For now, our work is on putting finishing touches on it all.
Not the least of which is the restructuring of the newsroom—-where the journalists sit side by side to put the stories of the day together.
While many newsrooms are now planned around a circle, I believe strongly that a pretzel-shape configuration is more practical: one circle of the pretzel accommodates print editors, the other one the digital editors; the strawberry in the middle is for various key section editors who manage the traffic of stories, and determine how each platform will cover the stories.
The first step in our rethinking of the NST has been to organize the newsroom in such a way where the stories, the content, comes first, and NOT the platform through which the story will be told.
To that effect, the walls are coming down on areas where you had them before.
When I first entered the newsroom of the NST, my first meeting was in a glass enclosed conference room I immediately labeled as a “fish tank”, everyone sees you , but nobody hears you.
In a modern newsroom, people have to see each other, talk to each other and hear each other.
In comes the new NST newsroom, where digital and print journalists will sit side by side, not in a circle, but in two intertwined circles which I call the pretzel.
In the middle of the circle, a strawberry, a unit where five or six rotating editors take turn during the day, editors who understand what each platform can do best, then fuse the stories through them. Some stories do well with video or audio, others are best to stay as a traditional narrative.
We live in a multiplatform world.
Readers face their day turning on their mobiles and computers before they turn on the espresso machine.
The newsrooms have to echo the multi media world they serve.
More to come here during this week.
Emphasizing the New in the New Straits Times: Part 1
It was the first day of M24 (Monocle Radio), the new 24-hour a day radio station created by Tyler Brulé to expand the offerings of his Monocle Magazine.
I was interviewed on the first edition of The Briefing: it was all about highlights of the WAN IFRA World Newspaper Congress in Vienna, and my thoughts on where the industry is headed.
For those who missed the live interview, you may go here to listen to it:
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-2012 U.S. Newspaper Publishing Industry-Industry & Market Report