Info at the center

Gannett’s announcement of plans to rename newsrooms “information centers,” realign editorial newspaper operations along seven radically different “desks” and to embrace ‘crowdsourcing” should strike fear in anyone who works in a newsroom and believes their job is to “put out the paper.”
Given the distressed nature of the newspaper business and the fact that the largest newspaper chain in America is embarking on a chain-wide sweeping reorg, a new urgency and higher profile for retooling and rethinking newsrooms at most every chain is a safe bet.
The best coverage of the announcement may be Jeff Howe’s in Wired and CrowdSourcing. Read his reports to get the full scoop.
A lot of people are weighing in. Here’s a sampling (updated):
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Is the Gannett way, the right way? We’ll see in the execution, which will be daunting at some papers. Other approaches may be as — or more — effective at getting to a 24/7 newsroom serving multiple platforms, and engaging communities in conversation and in the news gathering process. But kudos to Gannett for trying something on this scale.
The seven desks of the Gannett Information Center are unlike anything I’ve seen as a structure in a newsroom and are intriguing:
Digital — selecting the best platform for news delivery;
Public Service — extending First Amendment coverage, in part by involving readers and asking for community input on investigative areas;
Community Conversation — expanding the concept of the editorial page; managing staff commentary, from editorials and blogs to columns; and encouraging community participation online;
Local — expanding local coverage and re-establishing sports, business and feature reporting into hyper-local areas;
Custom Content — connecting with identified target audiences and looking for efficiencies in repurposing content across all platforms;
Data — elevating the practice of managing and acquiring deep local information;
Multimedia — leading all visual presentation across every platform; photographers will be trained for any type of multimedia.

None of the Gannett Information Center ideas are particularly new, but are totally foreign subjects to news budget meetings and how newsrooms work. And the CEO of a major newspaper chain, whether driven by costs or conviction, has said, “Let’s do it.”
Somebody, somewhere, just stepped on the accelerator of change. and that’s a good thing.