Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

May 25 2010

20:39

PBS NewsHour Collaborations Require Buy-In from the Top

Collaboration is one of the public broadcasting buzzwords of the moment. The new PBS NewsHour is a national news organization that is trying to figure out how collaboration works.

Collaboration was one of the bullet points when we announced the changes to the program. As with the staff reorganization, which I wrote about in my previous post on MediaShift, our collaboration efforts are moving along but still have a ways to go.

There are barriers between organizations within the public broadcasting system that we need to continue to break down before real editorial collaboration becomes a part of our natural process.

For us, it will take time and it's harder to do when HD video feeds are involved, since that requires a high level of quality. But it's not impossible. It requires creating open communication channels between partners and connecting them with the right people internally who can listen and follow through.

Driving Collaboration From the Top

The plans and intentions for each broadcast are more visible now that I sit in the middle of the newsroom. I'm happy to report that after years of thinking I was one of the only people around who cared about local stations, the new PBS NewsHour is shifting how our producers think about working with our friends in the public broadcasting system.

photo_bio_winslow.jpg

It's much easier to move mountains when you have buy-in from the top. And that is what I think we have now, starting with Jim Lehrer who is a big fan of the stations. This is reinforced with support from Linda Winslow, our executive director, and Simon Marks, our associate executive producer.

"The NewsHour recognizes that collaborations with like-minded journalists are a good way to both enrich our content and extend our reach across many different platforms," Winslow told me. "Most successful collaborations require constant attention and hard work, but the rewards are potentially immense. As news organizations strive to find new ways to engage an audience, partnering with people and organizations who are dedicated to reporting stories fairly, accurately and in some detail is, we believe, one way to ensure the survival of serious news coverage of both domestic and international developments."

Sample Initiatives

Here are some examples of how the PBS NewsHour is looking to other public broadcasters for collaboration:

I'm sure you'd get mixed responses if you asked the different parties how well these collaborations worked. That's part of the learning process. Expectations need to be set from the start, relationships need to be built slowly, and the conversation should continue after the report is posted.

Changing Roles

My job has changed, too. Since our redesign, one of my main jobs is keeping stations informed of our editorial plans, and making sure the best reporting by other producers or stations makes it onto our home page.

People who tried to partner with us in the past may find a different organization this time around, whether it's working together on a widget or co-producing a series of reports. In terms of collaborations, we're still not all the way there, much like the way PBS NewsHour's complete reorganization still has some kinks to work out.

Fellow public broadcasting collaboration veteran Amanda Hirsch, the project manager for the recently ended EconomyStory project, summed up some of the collaboration projects from the past in her own MediaShift post.

She's right on many points. I also think it takes a significant amount of internal pressure within an organization to make working with other organizations a priority. And unlike in her post, our online department is no longer in the ghetto. (My first post talked about the creek we had to cross to talk face to face with a broadcast colleague.) I now have a sunny newsroom office, and we're working hard to bring collaboration to our now-merged PBS NewsHour.

Anna Shoup is the local/national editor for PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She coordinates with local stations to develop collaborative editorial projects, such as Patchwork Nation, a partnership to cover the economy in different types of places. She also helps out with daily news updates, multimedia stories, and social media projects.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

November 30 2009

16:55

Merging Online and Broadcast Cultures to Reinvent 'NewsHour'

This is the first of a series of posts by Anna Shoup, the local/national editor for the program that will soon be renamed "PBS NewsHour." She will provide an insider's look at how the broadcast is changing, including the recent merging of its broadcast and online teams.

The "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" is re-incarnating itself as the "PBS NewsHour" on December 7. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes details involved in creating the new program, and chief among them is a complete reorganization of our editorial teams to create a merged newsroom for online and broadcast.

I've worked here for more than four years as part of a smart, and often experimental, online news team. Since 1995, the NewsHour's website has tread a path familiar to other legacy news organizations in that it was growing, yet often separate from the central news operation. The online team would write, edit, produce, blog and post our own reports. Not many of us knew the details of how the broadcast team put the program together every night. And, as I have since learned, the broadcast folks were just as confused by what web staffers did to make the site work.

I've had people ask me where I learned HTML (I know very little), if I can scan something and make a PDF (yes, but so can most people), and why we can't get their video up faster (it's not magic, it takes time). In the end, we were all committed to the core mission of serious journalism that is the hallmark of the "NewsHour." This reorganization is trying to bring these teams together.

Bridging Divides

We've worked to bridge physical and psychological divides. The "NewsHour" teams are in two buildings, and the online newsroom was tucked in a corner where people tended to stash chairs that didn't match and archive beta tapes. We literally had to cross a creek to get to the building where they tape the program. We called the rest of the staff "non-liners," and we had a slogan for our somewhat hidden newsroom: "Big Room, Big Ideas."


Soon after we received our company reorganization charts, it became clear that the old online team was going to have to break up. I was convinced that this meant the end of our scrappy, "make it up, but make it good" creative team. In a way, it was. Our reorganizers successfully ripped up a hub of multimedia reporters, designers and editors and planted many of us in the center of the broadcast newsroom. Most of the reporter-producers that were formerly online staffers are now in a reporter's bullpen. Our online art director now sits next to the broadcast's graphics team. We're now part of one team.

Different Tools, Different Languages

So Step One is complete in that we're sitting next to each other. But our cultures are still different. This is true in the way we communicate, and the way we approach the day's stories. Broadcast uses a newsroom communication tool called iNews to instant message and share scripts; onliners use Gchat and share story ideas via Google Docs. They ask: "talk or tape?" We ask: "audio, text, video, photos, slideshows, an interactive, or all of the above?"

In my case, I've been traveling the country with a broadcast team for our Patchwork Nation reporting project, and shooting footage that I'll use for online-only videos. On my first day in the new newsroom, I tried to book a guest. Tried, but failed. The second week, I tried to get footage I shot in the field onto the program and again I failed. It's going to take time. Luckily, some of my colleagues have had more success, and this is a result of everyone working together.

simon marks.jpg

Our associate executive producer, Simon Marks, promised there would be "cross-pollination" between digital reporter-producers and broadcast reporter-producers. There's already evidence of that becoming reality, with ideas now being shared over cubicle walls instead of across a creek.

This reorganization is enabling us to better serve our viewers and readers. We can now live encode an interview and get excerpts online within a couple of hours. Improving our speed is a big priority. To give you an idea of how far we've come, during the primaries the online team was once sent a cassette tape of an audio interview with then-candidate Barack Obama. We had to find a way to turn that into online content.

My co-worker and Global Health Watch reporter-producer Talea Miller has been traveling the world with an integrated reporting team. She reports to a senior producer while other people, including website editors, are also asking her to produce content.

"Because our unit already worked together closely, the reorganization has not changed that dynamic much, but we are now integrated into the foreign affairs beat so we can better coordinate all our international efforts," she said. "As with any transition, that has meant trying to feel out what our new roles are, and [learning] how to balance new and existing responsibilities, which can be a struggle at times."

(Re)Training the Teams

Now that we've cross-pollinated teams, we're all getting trained on the relevant technology. For example, the broadcast team uses Avid for video editing, while the online group favors Final Cut Pro. We now have four Final Cut suites in our newsroom and we've launched intensive training for onliners and broadcasters. I recently received an email inviting me to a breakfast session to learn how to produce a broadcast segment for the program. We plan to have people learn the different skills, figure out who's the best at what, and work from there.

This process is all to set up for the real work, which comes when we launch the new website on December 3 and the new program on Dec. 7. In my next post, I hope to share more about the broadcast, and offer reactions from my new friends in broadcast.

Anna Shoup is the local/national editor for PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She coordinates with local stations to develop collaborative editorial projects, such as Patchwork Nation, a partnership to cover the economy in different types of places. She also helps out with daily news updates, multimedia stories, and social media projects.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.
Get rid of the ads (sfw)

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl