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Newsroom Integration, Working?- Jim Brady April 17, 2009

Posted by meerarajagopalan in symposium.
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The Statesman editor, Fred Zipp asked the panel a simple question. “Is newsroom integration working?”

Jim Brady, former Washington Post editor, said no, but qualified it.

Brady feels that having a certain amount of autonomy is key for the Web site to survive on its own. The Web site has to push into things it would not do on its own. There is no right answer to the question. Each paper has to do what is right for them.

Brady noted that, “if you get people to comment on articles, we felt that they will become loyal readers very quickly. We look at those statistics very closely in real time. If newspapers could, they would too.”

Brady received support from Torry Pedersen from Norway, who made several analogies comparing similar things, but the differences made a huge impact. Like a waterfall (symbolizing the Web) and a water bottle, the paper. Just as the Web and newspapers are able to keep the same information, but the skills used to create each of them are different.

Brady notes an example where he wanted to launch blogs for the WashingtonPost. He went to the online editor and talked to him about it. If the online editor said he wouldn’t do it, Brady was still able to create the blogs on his own.

Besides being on the cutting edge with blogs, Washingtonpost.com was the first news site to offer comments on their articles. Though it is a cutting edge idea, people still were wondering why it hadn’t  been done yet.

Brady also cleared up some air on why he left the post. He left because the autonomy of the Website was disappearing, he didn’t want to fight to help it.

With the issue of newsroom integration, there is still the looming issue of newspapers lasting. In a Editor’s webblog forum, Brady assures his belief that major newspapers will still be around.

The Washington Post will absolutely exist in 2012, as will other big newspapers like The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. I do think you’re already seeing midsized and smaller papers deciding to go the Web-only route.


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