Newsrooms In Transition

This week, we’ll watch the 2011 documentary movie “Page One: Inside The New York Times” in class. It’s a fairly short movie, which will leave time for us to discuss our theme of the week: Newsrooms in Transition. The movie mainly follows Media Desk reporters David Carr and Brian Stelter during a pivotal moment in the Times’ history, as the once-dominant newspaper strives to remain relevant in the digital age.

This past weekend, the Times published an insightful piece about how its competitor, The Washington Post, is going through its own transitional moment. Before Thursday’s class, comment on this post with an answer of at least 200 words (worth 5 points) to the following question: What similarities and differences do you see between the Times and the Post as they navigate the transition to the digital age? Use specific examples from the movie and the article in your response.

6 thoughts on “Newsrooms In Transition

  1. The Post and The New York Times are journalistic icons—this article and Page One both confirm that notion. This article and the movie both discuss how these institutions are trying to avoid becoming a historical icon and remain a functioning and thriving icon of today. For both papers, their relevance is being questioned in the new world of digital news.

    In the article about The Post, the writer discusses how the “grandeur is gone” in the digital age. Page One touched on this topic when David Carr debated and a new media journalist. The new media journalist talked about how working for The Times no longer holds the same weight or guarantees an exclusive interview because of today’s world of free flowing news and information.
    What the movie and this article really don’t focus on is the advantage these iconic news organizations have in the digital news world, as long as they hop on the train and stay in touch with current technology trends. Because both The Post and The Times already have a stellar journalistic reputation, if they compete in the world of online news (which both do very well already) they have an advantage over every other new media website that surfaces.

    Another common theme in both this article and the movie is the sadness and reluctance of cutting staff members. Part of the benefit of new technology is better efficiency; better efficiency leads to needing fewer people to do the same job. That is part of being a strong competitor in today’s media world. Journalists can no longer hold out on their ability to do just one thing (write a news article), as Mr. Brauchli seems to remind his employees all the time. The journalists in Page One who are successful today have embraced new media and are producing more work at a more efficient rate. Like the Posts’ politics reporter Mr. Balz, journalists who have skills and talents that continue to benefit the organization are priceless and will never be let go. Adjusting your work and reporting to this new challenge is all a part of being a digital news competitor.

  2. What similarities and differences do you see between the Times and the Post as they navigate the transition to the digital age?

    Both the movie and the article dealt with how a company must both create an entrepreneurial and digital culture while at the same time staying true to heritage. One similarity I saw between how the Post and the Times are navigating this transition dealt with their markets. In wake of the transition, both papers had been depending on advertisers and subscribers that have since stepped out and embraced other niches on the web. Both had decades under their belt of minute competition. Ever since the Web has become mainstream, the transition to fewer resources had to be made, and each paper down-staffed their news rooms. One particular example from the movie that shows just this was when the Obituary writer, who’d been with the paper a number of decades, had to resign because her job was no longer needed. For every element of the news making process that the Post and the Times have done in the past, there are now online competitors that can do all of those elements, and a lot of times to a much better degree. But while downsizing newsrooms had to occur for both papers, maintaining daily news while at the same time running a 24/7 website spoke to the importance of people working in news like David Carr. Carr is the type of journalist that helps news remain true to its heritage. Brian Stelter, on the other hand, is an example of the force needed in order to solidify these legacy newspapers’ foundation, importance, popularity and respect on the web.

  3. Prior to embarking on their respective “digital reinventions,” both The Times and The Post face grim realities: They are reeling from a collapse in advertising revenue, struggling to compete with the onslaught of online news sites and fighting to maintain morale as their newsrooms dwindle.

    Despite nostalgia for the ways of their historical pasts, both journalistic greats know something has to change. Luckily for The Washington Post, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli “refuses to be held hostage to the past” and embraces the transition to a digital newsroom. Times Executive Editor Bill Keller does the same.

    The publications carry out their digital transformations by reinventing their business practices and adapting their news content to be attuned to new media.

    For The Post, the primary goal is to expand its Web presence, using digital tools to measure its success (instead of just assuming its readers are happy). The paper stresses online metrics, requires Google-friendly key words and tracks Web traffic patterns.

    The Times embraces social media through Twitter, creates the perfect iPad app to “replace” the print paper and collaborates with WikiLeaks, instead of working against it.

    A notable difference between the two publications’ digital transitions is that The Post has much farther to go. Before becoming a digital newsroom, The Post’s digital and print operations are separated by a state line and run by completely different managers, according to The Times article. And that was only two years ago!

    However, The Post eventually recognizes the importance of digital news and establishes its primary goal: to bring as many visitors as possible to Washingtonpost.com.

    After making the necessary changes to keep up with the rest of the digital world, The Post and The Times prove they’re still two of the best — The New York Times is the top most visited American newspaper website, with The Washington Post coming in second.

    Under Brauchli, The Post has won five Pulitzer Prizes and produced several important investigative pieces, according to The Times article. And in the final scene of “Page One,” Keller addresses the newsroom at the Times after the paper wins another collection of Pulitzer Prizes.

    These accolades demonstrate that “despite the emphasis on digital delivery,” the papers continue to embrace what made them great in the first place: high-quality reporting, proving the quality of journalism will always matter, regardless of the medium.

  4. In both the New York Times and the Washington Post, they both suffered a loss of morale in the office. Both papers have a high standard not only in the journalism industry but to society as a whole. They have an image, and what they write is concrete.

    With a new digital age, it is essential that they adapt to the new world, while keeping their same motives of delivering the news. Both papers have suffered massive losses due to the new digital age, advertising, and online publications. News is free and just like Page One of the New York Times, economically times are tough.

    Both the New York Times and the Washington Post had to make cuts on their employees. The New York Times had to cut 100 employees while the Washington post had to cut from 1000 employees to 640. The New York Times and Washington post also asked which employees were willing to leave (Washington post offered buyouts for managers).

    Both the New York Times and the Washington Post said they feel as if they seemed to loose their age in mainstream media.

    Both papers know that it is essential to gravitate to a more digital, and internet “savy” way of doing business.

  5. What similarities and differences do you see between the Times and the Post as they navigate the transition to the digital age?

    Both newspapers have had to make cuts to assimilate to the changing climate for journalism to tell their stories. Cuts in advertising revenue (30 percent at the NYT), an increase in new media, and decreased demand for a print edition.

    Both papers still focus on doing quality journalism with fewer resources. They both mention the Huffington Post and their competitive threat they pose as a news aggregator. The Post has employed tactics of the Huffington Post by even starting a blog featuring celebrities like the Kardashians.

    It’s a numbers game at both the NYT and Post– they focus on analytics in order to measure the success of their stories. The Post specifically looks at page views, unique visitors and social media referrals.

    David Carr says Twitter allows him to listen to a collective voice. Brian Stelter got his Times job by simply blogging.

    News is not dying. Print is nose-diving. They have to be lean. There is also still a struggle to reach younger audiences– the average age of CNN viewer is 49 year olds.

    The Times still sets the agenda for a lot of news as seen in the NYT Effect. The Post makes a point to track its viewers, specifically with government domains, to maintain their sphere of influence in Washington.

    “To me, the Post was and is a great newspaper,” Mr. Balz said. “Is it a different place today than it was? Sure. But in the end it’s still a great place to do great journalism.”

  6. Both the movie and the article present a true ,sombre picture of the pressures that news organizations are going through as management struggles to find winning strategies coming from the sweeping change. Management in both papers are making reporters take on different , and sometimes new duties.
    There seems to be a continuous need to tell what directions the papers need to take, with management seeking to involve employees in decision -making while at the same time seeming to need to provide a sense of direction. In the film, David Carr constantly questions reporters on what their contributions should be while at the same time subliminally implies a need for them to be creative. In the Washington Post, there is conflict between Brauchli and Catherine Weymouth as they grapple on how best to identify the way forward for the newspaper.

    Both papers spot many challenges as they strive to remain relevant and in the leading media spot in today’s fast-changing news industry.

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