Freeze-frame of the race for change

Newsroom visual communication center

Here is a link to a piece I wrote for the “Convergence Newsletter” of the Newsplex at the University of South Carolina. in the issue introduction, editor Matt McColl writes:

In looking at the newsrooms of 10 or 20 years ago and those of today, the comparisons are staggering. The process of making, gathering, buying and selling the news has changed dramatically, with everything from massive layoffs to totally integrated newsrooms.

This month, Jack Lail, the Knoxville News Sentinel’s news innovation director, gives a firsthand account of his newsroom’s evolution and the mental and emotional strains that came with it. Lail also analyzes how the Sentinel’s staff has measured the effectiveness of its efforts.

Deadlines being what they are, this was written a few months ago; it’s very much a freeze-frame of the race for change some miles back. We thought the transformation we began more than three years ago was gut-wrenching. It did involve tears and turmoil and topsy-turvy.

The changes unfolding just now under the moniker of Scripps 3.0, however, are larger in scope (organizing around four content types and centralizing copy editing and desk design functions for groups of newspapers) and more far-reaching (affecting not just our newsroom and newspaper, but all of Scripps’ newspapers).

But one of the collective understandings gained from the process begun more than three years ago is that change is continuous and, by definition, different.

And easier said than accomplished.

(The photo above by phhotographer  J. Miles Cary is of the Knoxville News Sentinel newsroom Visual Communication Center, or VCC, where metrics are posted every day. Our increase in the use of metrics in the newsroom and their impact is highlighted in the piece.)

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