Teaching Examples

Making online journalism — Part 5
November 14, 2006, 1:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Teamwork makes journalism happen — this is doubly, triply true for online journalism. In the 24-7 world of continual updates, you don’t just pass stories on down the chain until they land on the press as ink applied to paper, or go to air.

Journalists with different skill sets must work together to produce great online journalism. Sure, there are some people who can do it all. But even those who can usually don’t. Even Kevin Sites had two experienced producers behind him while he hopped from one Hot Zone to another.

Alberto Cairo recommends a three-person team:

  • One person to do the word reporting (writing and audio).
  • One to do visual reporting (photos and video).
  • One to do design, infographics and programming — not only presentation, mind you, but also the graphic reporting.

It’s not exactly clear who would do the audio and video editing if there really were only three people. Maybe the audio gatherer would edit the audio, and the video shooter would edit the video.

At the Newsplex in South Carolina, they advocate training for four key newsroom roles:

  • The news-flow editor determines platforms on which stories will appear and coordinates the work.
  • The storybuilder works across media platforms on a story and envisions which assets will be needed to complete the story.
  • The multiskilled journalist produces video, photographs, audio and/or written copy; functions as a backpack journalist.
  • The news resourcer is an information specialist who participates in storybuilding and searches out material to be used in stories, as well as external resources to be linked.

The news resourcer position seems like a good idea, if the news operation is big enough to support it. It’s cool if this person can do graphics research — always necessary for bigger packages.

The plan for a mojo (mobile journalist) to be responsible for all reporting in all media has met with some criticism. I also think this scheme doesn’t do justice to the importance of information design and information graphics in online media.

The key here is recognizing that one person alone is not going to start the story — or finish it. To get from the reporting to the Web site calls for at least two people in probably 90 percent of cases where the story is anything beyond plain text. That story will be better and stronger if two or more journalists make sure the story gets to reach its digital, online, multimedia potential.

And somebody in the mix has got to understand design!

Yesterday: Storytelling.

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6 Comments so far
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Greetings Mindy.

We currently just used a team of four to cover an event. Two photojournalist went to a Hillary Clinton event, and one set up a digital recorder on the lectern.

When they got back, they started editing and toning the images, I began to edit the audio and the photo editor edited the images. Earlier in the day I had set up flash templates for possible story forms.

In the end, all four of us edited the final sound slides show that we published online before the writer had finished with his copy.

There are times when one voice and vision works well, but there are other times that a group effort is stronger, faster and can tell the story in a unique way.

Comment by Anonymous

Hey, Mike, give us a link, please!

Comment by Mindy McAdams

I wasn’t sure if that was kosher 😉


We tightened things up on Monday, post publishing on Friday and learned a few things along the way.

Comment by Anonymous

Here, allow me —

Waiting for Hillary

Comment by Mindy McAdams

Your five part series is really good, very informative. I’m a third year journalist at the university of central lancashire, specialising in online journalism, and I’ve been struggling with trying to focus my website project that we’ve got to do for an assignment.

Your tips have helped me think more about the story and remember that I’ve got to TELL it and in a way that will really work with the audience. It’s quite a meaty story and I was struggling to find ways to present it, but I think I’ve got a better idea now.

The teamwork section was really interesting, I’m the assistant editor for our student newspaper here at UCLan and we’ve launched our online news service in the past month – and we’re looking at converging with the radio station and newspaper next year, and the teamwork section has given me some ideas about how that should work.

And by the way, our tutor references your blog in every lecture…you sure you’re not paying him?

Comment by Ed

Thanks for the comment, Ed! I had to laugh about what you wrote about your tutor — I do have some fans, but I don’t bribe any of them (grin). I think we all have a hard time remembering the needs and attitudes of the audience when we are struggling with our technical issues and our deadlines.

Getting people to work in teams is tough, because everyone thinks it’s more efficient to just go out and get it done. The end product isn’t as good, though, when the producers and reporters fail to work together and talk about stuff in advance.

Good luck with your project, Ed! And pass on my thanks to your tutor, please.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

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