More 21st century newsroom ideas: the Google Newsroom

The Google Newsroom

The Google Newsroom

Here’s a new contribution to the ‘Model for a 21st Century Newsroom’ concept: the Google Newsroom, by Benoît Raphaël. Based on his experience as editor in chief at Le Post, Raphael makes a number of salient points about reorganising the newsroom in a digital age. He suggests that “we have to forget that old idea of merging newsrooms” and create “one “where everything happens,” that is to say on the web. This is the heart of information system. The rest is just appearance.”

“At, print articles represent 30% of production, but less than 15% of traffic. You can not just write and redirect to a pipe. To produce content you have to take an evolving environment into account.

“Journalists become schizophrenic [when you ask them to write for print and web]. They become “bi-media” and feel they are bi-working, which for them means “twice”.”

Raphael says the newsroom must make a distinction between roles of creation-based journalism and those of curation-based journalism.

“Your 80 journalists are gathered into 10 business units, ie in thematic clusters. Just as an independent media (which could be branded in another way) managed (or not) by a cluster manager, around which you can gather 8 journalists, bloggers, a community + 1 marketing + 1 sales officer (they can work on multiple clusters). Each cluster can also have its copy editor and its associated community manager.

“In each cluster, we will produce creation-oriented journalism. The driving question must be: since everyone covers approximately the same information on the network, what is my added value?”

In addition, there are super copy editors working on taking the content and making the print product work to its high resolution visual strengths.

It’s a considered approach to the evolving newsroom that turns print-centric operations on their head. People will point out that print is responsible for most of the revenue, but there’s a point to be made here: it doesn’t actually mean it should account for most of expenditure. After all, travel supplements are more lucrative than war coverage, but that doesn’t mean you hold back from spending a disproportionate amount of money on the latter.

Since most news organisations are turning to a web-first strategy, it makes organisational sense that the ‘rewriting’ happens for the print or broadcast edition (in this case by the super copy editors), not the other way around. But as Raphael points out: “You tell me: will your 80 journalists be able to go on the web? In most newsrooms, the “web level” is close to zero. What is [stopping this happening] is bi-media schizophrenia.”


You can also find the original article in French along with a reaction by Mikiane from France24


4 thoughts on “More 21st century newsroom ideas: the Google Newsroom

  1. Paulo Nuno Vicente

    Hi Paul,

    Interesting perspective. I think it’s crucial to explore new (more functional) newsroom organization models, since they have a direct impact on news production routines.

    At the same time, I’m also worried on the possibility that discussions on business models and organizational elements may postpone a crucial debate on content quality, i.e., relationship with “people formerly known as the audience””, fact-verification on social networks, etc.

    I think that more important than state that “most news organisations ARE turning to a web-first strategy” – we may need more international evidence on this – we must develop some research projects in order to evaluate HOW is this happening and WHAT are the major implications from this (possible) trend.

    That will also allow us to go further than “bi-media schizophrenia” – a very limited suggestion since exclusivelly “psychological”. I suspect (hypothesis) that a relevant amount of news directors, editors and reporters still not understand WHY is a web-based strategy needed.


  2. Christian Løverås

    As a very old man (I’m 37), I still subscribe to a printed newspaper. Quite a few mornings I mistakenly think I have picked up yesterday’s paper, as I have already read many of the news stories. But no, it is the right newspaper, it’s just that I have read the same news the day/evening before – on my computer at work, on my phone on the commute back home, on my computer at home, etc.

    Publishers who want to compete in bringing the latest news available first simply can not afford a delay of several hours (printing, distribution, etc). The term “newspaper” is already an oxymoron. Also: If I read about something in the print version, I often want to get an update on the latest developments. There is absolutely no way I will wait for that until the next day’s paper is delivered. Still, many publishers think that the web is an “extra” and that the print version should be the main focus.

    It’s interesting that Benoit Raphael uses The Daily Telegraph as an example. They use Escenic Content Studio as the point of entry for all journalists, and all content is commissioned and produced for the web. The print edition is (simply put) a snapshot of the online content at print deadline, and content is exported from Escenic Content Engine to DTI for print production. The Daily Telegraph have around 300 reporters producing content – not “content for online” or “content for print”.

    Escenic believes in working with the richest media and publishing the appropriate content in different channels. For instance, let’s assume a story with 500 words, 8 images and a video. The web (and mobile web) version will use all the content, while the print edition may only use the et and two of the images. This should not matter to the reporter producing the story – they should be focusing on the content not the channel or the presentation.

    Publishers who do manage to publish efficiently to web often forget that it results in much more interaction with the readers, and that content on the web is part of a continuous discussion. It is no longer one to many, but many to many. A reporter needs to listen and read, not just write. Published content needs to be refined, new information may require rewriting or re-editing of published content, etc. There is an illustration at the top of showing what Escenic calls the “continuous workflow”.

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  4. Pingback: Are we ready for the virtual newsroom? |

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