Staff cuts (50) and a newsroom re-organization at The Tampa Tribune made a
Because lost in the back and forth about just who’s the naive greenhorn and who’s the pig-headed old dinosaur is the re-organization itself – and that’s something worth debating and watching.
While not truly radical, the changes being hammered out in Tampa are part of an increasing trend in North American newsrooms to cut the connection between reporters and institutions (beats) and more importantly between reporters and the medium their reporting will appear in. (Note: the Trib is part of a chain that has three properties in Tampa: the Trib, online news website
In an email to journalism prof and blogger
- Managing editors
- 5-6 audience editors — keep in touch with what the print, TV, online audiences want/need
- 5 sections of reporting (all the reporters for print, TV and Web are mashed up together in these groups):
- Deadline — for breaking/daily news
- Data — specifically for database stuff
- Watchdog — for investigative reporting
- Personal journalism — stuff for people’s every day lives like weather, health, entertainment
- Grassroots — citizen journalism
- Outside of these groups are three “finishing” groups (production people – ed) for print, TV and
online to determine what stories should be covered and with what medium.
It’s a strange structure, but an interesting one. Instead of organizing content (and newsroom staff) around the content niches that newspapers have historically bundled together (crime news, city hall, education etc), they follow an inconsistent ontology: an organizational scheme that groups news by where it comes from (Grassroots); when it comes (Deadline); what form it comes in (Data); how people will use it (Personal Journalism) and what they hope it will do (Watchdog).
I’m not sure if that’s evidence of sloppy thinking or innovation. And I wonder if they can really overcome the traditional beat structure with this scheme — or beat specialists going to continue to patrol their turf, coughing up content into each of the different categories.
At least they’re trying.