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NYT’s blog editor Sewell Chan shares tips on integration April 17, 2009

Posted by Raquel in symposium.


Sewell Chan, bureau chief of City Room Blog at The New York Times, offered a perspective on newsroom integration.

He said that the newsroom entered integration in 2005. Right now more than 20 million unique visitors per month and it’s America’s #1 online newspaper website. It’s mostly editors who update the website. Out of 1200 approx people, 90 are web people.

Chan argues that it’s important for there to be physical proximity between departments in a newsroom. This also adds for editorial meetings to include the common questions – Can there be audio? Can there be video? – for every story. Just like in the past people competed for stories to be on the first page of the paper, there is the same competition for the online homepage.

“It was easier to say what we were than what we were not,” he said. “Ours is a group-written blog, entirely reported, carefully edited, and often in much greater detail than what is covered in print.”

He also discussed the “economy of the link” proposes an ethos of sharing along the web. People are constantly linking to one another, what Chan called “bloglove.”

“If the newspaper is the first draft of tomorrow’s history, the blog is the first draft of tomorrow’s paper.”

Another anecdote Chan shared was one in which a road sign was torn by a trailer truck, and the car that couldn’t pass right after it fell covered the whole thing with photos, video, phoned in his quotes. What’s important the culture shift that that represents.

The New York Times reviews its comments. Only 3,000 comments a week are published after the many that are sent.

“We’re actually appropriating a lot of people form the print side and given digital responsibilities,” he said. Those who think that the print-oriented people can’t embrace that are not thinking that these same people can be very creative and learn fast.

New York Times has never been a newspaper that covers high school sports and such, but now they’re trying out a new project, The Local, where a print newspaper becomes a community moderator and journalist trainer.



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