Futures Lab Video #38: Newsroom Architecture, Online Pay Models and Audience Connection

    by Reuben Stern
    December 4, 2013
    Mary Hockaday, head of the BBC multimedia newsroom, says that the layout of the newsroom needs to be agile for collaboration.

    Reporting by Reuben Stern, Olga Kyle, Laura Davison, Chelsea Stuart and Sarah Harkins.

    This week the RJI Futures Lab explores how newsroom design might affect coverage, how to connect stories with their proper audience and how the New York Times made its pay model work.

    "Design a newsroom for action. Design a newsroom to go on the air now with everything that you need." -Thomas Kent, AP.


    PART 1: Collaborative newsroom layouts

    Many traditional newsrooms have changed their physical space to meet the demands of delivering news online. Editors at The Associated Press and the BBC explain how the right geography inside a newsroom might improve news coverage.

    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

    Extended interview:


    Standards Editor Tom Kent oversaw the re-design of the New York newsroom at The Associated Press nearly a decade ago. In this extended interview, he explains why newsrooms need to be built to adapt to change, and he says attributes like the size of individual offices can affect the way editors behave.

    PART 2: Lessons from The New York Times pay model

    By going against prevailing norms and limiting free access on its website in March 2011, The New York Times played a big role in getting the general public to pay for news content online. We hear from The New York Times Company Vice Chairman Michael Golden and former Executive Director of Cross-Platform Monetization Tim Griggs about how they did it and what they learned about turning readers into subscribers.

    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

    For more information:

    The Times has attracted more than 727,000 paying digital subscribers, and in the third quarter of this year digital subscriptions brought in more revenue than digital advertising for the first time. (Columbia Journalism Review)

    CJR’s Ryan Chittum offers an analysis of the Times’ digital revenue data, along with an addendum that incorporates print ad revenue.

    Newsonomics author Ken Doctor says the New York Times made the right long-term call by implementing a pay model early, but notes the company needs to release its new line of paid products soon to continue to see growth in subscriber numbers.

    Paul Smurl, former vice president for paid products at NYTimes.com, reflects on what he learned during the first two years of the reader revenue model, including that newspapers need to adopt the mentality of an online retailer when introducing a pay model. (Journalism.co.uk)

    PART 3: Connecting with the right audiences

    Elizabeth Osder is a digital pioneer and consultant who has helped steer online strategy and products for global news brands like The New York Times, The Financial Times and Yahoo. In this sit-down interview she says digital success requires connecting individual pieces of content with specific interested audiences.

    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

    Reuben Stern is the deputy director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and host and co-producer of the weekly Futures Lab video update.


    The Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab video update features a roundup of fresh ideas, techniques and developments to help spark innovation and change in newsrooms across all media platforms. Visit the RJI website for the full archive of Futures Lab videos, or download the iPad app to watch the show wherever you go. You can also sign up to receive email notification of each new episode.

    Tagged: audience newsroom newsroom structure online pay models pay model

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