How to lead a news meeting that puts digital journalism first
Daily news meetings are an important place for editors to emphasize priorities.
If a morning meeting focuses on the next day’s newspaper, that will be the focus of the staff’s energies. A digital news outlet should place the focus, especially in a morning meeting, on plans and results for digital content. Don’t critique the morning paper (or, if you must, critique it briefly at the end of the meeting). Instead, you should discuss what’s resonating this morning with your digital audience: What’s getting strong traffic? What’s generating comments on your site or your Facebook page or on Twitter? Do you have plans (or should you make them) for advancing those stories through the day?
If you have projection capability in your conference room, show the site and/or your Facebook page and/or your analytics page(s) on the screen to aid in the discussions.
Discuss digital coverage plans for the day: What video are you shooting? What stories might you be able to supplement with YouTube videos? What stories provide good crowdsourcing opportunities, and how should you pitch them to the community? What are photo gallery opportunities, and are you planning to shoot them (and/or to seek community photos)?
What events will you be covering live this day (and the next)? Will you be live tweeting them, live blogging, live streaming or some combination? Are you planning a live chat about an event or timely issue (or should you)? Discuss what you’re promoting (or will promote later in the day) on social media.
The meeting also should reflect that mobile content and audience are growing in importance. Look at your tablet and phone apps during the meeting to see whether the right stories are featured and how your content is displaying. If you can project a laptop or phone screen, that would be great, but holding a device up or passing it around will work. Discuss opportunities for engaging with your mobile community.
For the morning meeting, the print product should be an afterthought, perhaps a brief mention of which stories have page-one potential or of any graphic elements for print that will need attention early in the day.
If you have a late-afternoon meeting, that can focus appropriately more on print. Most of your day’s digital news traffic and coverage is behind you, and the print deadlines are approaching. Go ahead and make your page-one plans. But even here, you need to mix in some digital discussion. If you have some evening events, discuss your live coverage plans. If you have an afternoon or evening iPad edition, discuss which stories will be ready and how they will be played. Facebook use gets a boost in the evening, so you should also plan some evening posts.
Maybe you should overhaul your meeting(s) in other ways. Should you scrap them altogether and communicate through a shared Google doc or gchat and/or smaller conversations with one or a few staff members at a time? Should you invite all staffers into a meeting that’s now just for the editors? Or should you invite staffers from remote bureaus or sister newsrooms to join by conference call or Google Hangout? Should you meet in the middle of the newsroom instead of a conference room? Should you livestream the meeting or invite the public to attend in person? If you do, you might want to tell staff to tone down foul language or edgy sarcasm, if your meetings tend to be foul or sarcastic. And you certainly need to tell staffers to be careful not to mention details that shouldn’t be public, such as confidential sources, juveniles whose names you won’t be publishing and speculation about people who might be charged with crimes.
How does your newsroom focus on digital and mobile platforms in your meetings?
This post is an excerpt from one which originally appeared on The Buttry Diary. It is republished on IJNet with permission.
Steve Buttry, a veteran editor and journalism trainer, is Digital Transformation Editor at Digital First Media. He was named the inaugural Lamar Visiting Scholar at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Journalism and Communication, where he will begin work July 1.
Image CC-licensed on Flickr via Andy Piper