News Leadership 3.0

November 28, 2011

At the New Haven Register, reorganization emphasizes investigative and engagement

Journal Register Company Editor-in-Chief Jim Brady says the change seeks to “fundamentally change the way the Register newsroom operates” while demonstrating that “you can address the needs of traditional journalism while still reorienting your newsroom toward the future.” A new reorganization creates investigative/depth, engagement and breaking news teams.

Good news for digital journalism - the New Haven Register has embarked on a reorganization that recognizes the importance of engagement and in-depth journalism. I expect it will prove to be a 1.0 that will evolve over time, and we can learn a lot by following its progress.

In a post about the reorganization, Brady highlights the creation of three new teams:

- Investigative and in-depth reporting team
- Audience engagement team, which will partner with readers and community groups.
- Breaking news team.

JRC Connecticut Group Editor Matt DeRienzo said the investigative team initially will have two journalists, the engagement team three members and the breaking news team five. DeRienzo expects the numbers will change over time. “We see it as beginning, not the end.”

In post about the changes, DeRienzo noted that as Journal Register news organizations have shifted resources away from print production, they can put more reporters on the street. “And ‘slow news’ - journalism that delves deeply into a story, that invests staff time in investigative work - has a prominent place alongside the breakneck pace of breaking news alerts.”

The move, DeRienzo said, “will establish a full-time investigations editor position at the New Haven Register for the first time in more than 20 years. A second full-time position will be devoted to the ‘explainer’ format of in-depth reporting on local and state issues and “fact checking” statements made by politicians, public officials, activists and business leaders.”

He said the two journalists will be replaced on their old beats - made possible by consolidating other print-production jobs. The newsroom staff of the Register numbers 70, DeRienzo said.

Generally, newsrooms have been very slow to tear themselves away from print focus. Even when they are doing digital journalism, print routines and demands often drive the work. Better late than never, though. It’s encouraging to see a number of recent newsroom reorganizations. Let’s hope for more in 2012.

Here are a couple of posts about other 2011 reorganizations:
The Seattle Times: Newsroom reorganization reflects new priorities
Wichita Eagle: Testing a new model for digital-first journalism


The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

 

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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