Monday, November 03, 2008

From the hustings

The assistant editor of the UK's Telegraph, Justin Williams, advises copy editors to consider other careers as the Telegraph experiments with a system that lets reporters file online first before their content is "moderated":

"The cost of publishing has now fallen to zero and that's ultimately what we're struggling with. We have to get to a point where our journalists deliver their content to whoever wants to get it and it has to cost us nothing to do that if we are to survive," he said. (Emphasis added.)

"What does that mean for sub-editors? I would not become a sub-editor now. The future for sub-editing is bleak, there may still be a future, but we have to drive down costs."

His advice, look at "content generation" or becoming "data practitioners."

"We're going to need lots of people to help us move in areas that we are already in and into new areas, to create content in imaginative new ways. But it [the future] will not be about the interminable multi-staged editing process," he said.

While we're talking "money" quotes, this one is from a National Press Club forum release last week titled "Reporters Getting Burned Out Wtth New Technology":

"I have been blogging for years," said Tony Messenger, a state capital bureau correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I have yet to have a discussion in my newsroom about why we're blogging and to tie that somehow into the newspaper's business model."
(Again, my emphasis.)

He said he Twittered during a gubernatorial election debate, taking time from blogging and writing the next day's newspaper story. Yet just 13 people were following his Twitter posts.

"I should be sitting down with editors and other reporters who are using this technology and discussing whether it worked for this situation or that situation," he said. "And how can we save jobs in the newsroom if we do this?"

The proud St. Pete Times state capital bureau in Florida, long the stamping ground of the legendary Lucy Morgan, has been cut back enough that it is merging with the also-trimmed statehouse bureau of the Miami Herald. The bureau chiefs of each paper will take turns leading the office.

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