Guiding Principles for the Next Newsroom

    by Chris O'Brien
    February 4, 2008

    The Next Newsroom Project began last summer with a question: If you could build the ideal newsroom from scratch, what would it look like? We were asking that question on behalf of The Chronicle, the independent student newspaper at Duke University.

    Since receiving our News Challenge grant from the Knight Foundation, we’ve interviewed journalists, digital media experts, architects, campus media advisers, academics, and innovation specialists. We profiled professional and campus newsrooms (and some organizations that had no newsroom). And we looked for ideas outside journalism from folks like innovation consultants Jump Associates . And we studied buildings like the Stata Center at MIT. Jump’s new offices and the Stata Center were designed to foster interaction and collaboration in the belief it will spark innovation.

    After months of research and thinking, we spent the past weekend presenting a summary of our work to the board of The Chronicle. The first challenge was to take all this work and synthesize a few big themes that I think will guide the writing of the Next Newsroom proposal.


    Here are the five qualities we believe the Next Newsroom should have:

    • It should be fully integrated, able to publish or broadcast the news and reach readers on any platform they embrace over time.
    • It needs to be innovative. It needs to have the tools, the culture, and the people who are constantly willing to try new things.
    • It should be flexible and adaptable. Assume it will be a place that gets taken apart and reconfigured constantly.
    • It should be transparent and open to embracing the public and making them part of the process. That transparency should be reflected in the design, the spaces, and the mentality.
    • It should be a place committed to superior journalism, dedicated to fulfilling its role as a watchdog for the community, and providing independent reporting and analysis.

    The next step is to take those themes and turn them into a detailed proposal for a real newsroom or media center. While we have a lot of ideas about how that might be done, I’d like to hear any feedback or suggestions folks out there might have on any of those themes. What would your Next Newsroom look like?

    Tagged: chronicle duke nextnewsroom

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