TAKEAWAY: A memo from the publisher of the Financial Times to his staff offers glimpses of how things should be in a multi media platform newsroom. Read on.
Here is the poster for the 1946 film, Night and Day, a biography of Cole Porter, author of the song by the same name; Image courtesy of Warner Brothers: http://annyas.com/screenshots/warner-bros-trailer-typography-1945-1949/
When Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby), who passed away recently and who advised millions thru her daily column, was asked about the difference between a wife and mistress, she replied: Night and day.
It seems also to be the difference between newsrooms that have it and those which don’t.
Night and Day it is.
The recent memo from Lionel Barber to his FT staff, coinciding with the 125th anniversary of the Financial Times, offers his vision for the financial news provider in the year ahead. One item in particular caught my eye, and made me remember the Dear Abby reference:
We are moving from a news business to a networked business…..
In order to engage more deeply with our readers, we need to introduce a more intelligent, balanced and efficient deployment of our investment and our people. So we are proposing a shift of some resources from night work to day and from print to digital.
This, I believe, summarizes the spirit of what newsrooms across the world, no matter how small and where geographically, should be discussing thoroughly. I know this is a major theme in my workshops, along with how to generate more revenue from the various platforms.
The Scandinavians have been the first to refer to night and day as key elements of their newsroom reorganizations. For the past three years, many titles in Norway, Sweden and Denmark have started to abandon the old late night hours for closing the “print” edition, realizing that editioning in the old fashion definition is anachronistic and not practical.
The newsroom of today never closes, while deadlines are assigned to specific platforms, but not with the sense of finality that once described the moment all stopped and the last brief “breaking news” item made it on the front page, or the final score of a game got into the sports page.
That information now appears on a mobile phone screen when it happens. It is, for all practical purposes, delusional to believe that the world waits for our print edition to offer that score, or that news about how the stock market closed today.
So, the urgency of night has turned into the reality of day.
Things happen during the day. We are connected to our platforms during the day, and we let them rest at night.
It is part of the enormous change that is taking place in our business and how we conduct it. But, again, if you are a storyteller (or a news junkie), these are great times to get all the information you want and when you want it.
Lionel Barber is on to something with his memo to the staff, most of it making great sense and inspiring us with its vision.
However, the night and day reference struck a chord with me. It is another one of those hard to abandon myths in newsrooms across the world.
Let the change begin.
Other key points of the Lionel Barber memo to the Financial Times team:
Mobile alone, for example, now accounts for 25 per cent of all the FT’s digital traffic. It would be reckless for us to stand still.
We must also recognize that the internet offers new avenues and platforms for the richer delivery and sharing of information. We are moving from a news business to a networked business.
I would like to implement measures to simplify the newspaper to lighten the work load and reduce the resources devoted to print.
We must find a way to reduce production resources at night and increase them in the day; these same resources must also be increasingly devoted to the web and less to the newspaper.
We need to become content editors rather than page editors. We must rethink how we publish our content, when and in what form, whether conventional news, blogs, video or social media.
We will be launching new products and services online in 2013, starting with our “Fast FT” markets and a new Weekend FT app.
Financial Times editor announces digital-first strategy - Lionel Barber to cut 35 jobs in ‘big cultural shift’ for business daily
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