I recently attended a conference targeted at newspaper publishers to learn more about how they’re dealing with structural shifts in the industry. Current challenges that TV news and the print industry face have many things in common, but the newspaper business clearly shows how these changes are taking place at warp speed. Print organizations have survived, and in some cases thrived, by unifying their traditional print and web operations into a single newsroom operation.
Television Newsrooms Today
Television stations today are taking a similar approach. Many are already publishing to multiple platforms. However, a lot of them are keeping their production resources isolated. They typically have TV journalists (90% of their resources), plus a Web team, digital team, and/or multi-platform team (10% of their resources). Their workflow still focuses primarily on the television product because it’s still their biggest revenue driver. But web producers are often charged with triple duty—writing, editing, and publishing (see diagram1)—keeping web publishing costly and inefficient.
News organizations need to break down walls between distribution platforms and build a unified newsroom. In a unified newsroom, each journalist focuses on a beat, or area of specialty, and is given assignments and deadlines based on the needs of each platform. Producers then work together to cross-promote their platform content and maintain consistent editorial standards (see diagram 2).
This offers a number of benefits:
- Higher quality content for digital platforms
- More efficient use of newsroom resources
- Effective organizational linking and cross promotion
- Faster time to publish
On paper, such a change may seem relatively minor. But the cultural and technical implications of building a unified newsroom can be far-reaching. In some newsrooms, there are union considerations, while in others, cultural challenges as job descriptions evolve to include additional responsibilities.
Since multi-platform publishing requires a different approach than traditional broadcast systems, there are also technical challenges. Producers and web editors still need specialized power user tools like iNews and WebCMS systems. But the majority of journalists in a unified newsroom will need a single tool that enables them to write for television, web and mobile platforms—tools like Interplay Central and iNews that can provide the unified interface they need to keep their focus on the story whether they are writing copy or integrating video into their pieces.
Even though they are competing with newspapers, web pure-plays, content aggregators, and new entrants on new platforms, television broadcasters still have the distinct advantage of knowing how to use media most effectively to tell a story. And that’s critical to engagement, regardless of the platform. Taking a unified, multi-platform approach, television news can not only thrive, but stay ahead of the game in an increasingly competitive world.