Archives for posts with tag: web producers

Here’s another link relayed via Jacqui Banaszynski: a cool-sounding job posted by MinnPost.com. The job title is “assistant Web editor,” but this sounds an awful lot like the interactive copy editor job we’ve been shaping here at the Missourian.

We seem to have migrated from the term “web producer” to “interactive copy editor” as we’ve talked about this transition. But maybe we could steal a term from Tribune Broadcasting. They’re busy hiring “producer/editors,” which they’ve collapsed into … “preditors.”

(Hat tip to @jimmcmillan and @niemanlab.)

Should we move the production teams to a different spot in the newsroom?

It seems logical that, if the new interactive copy editors are the digital hub of the newsroom, that they should be centrally located in the room, rather than in the corner. It also seems logical that, if the new interactive copy editors are also the voices of the newsroom most interacting with our online public that they might also be the people nearest the entrance to the newsroom, ready to interact with the real live public when it visits.

And how segregated within this room — if at all — does the new print team need to be to reinforce our plan to deal with print in isolation?

And how much does it matter? Especially in a newsroom where almost no one has permanent claim on any given desk?

So, we’re going to try this.

Missourian editors met today and it seems we have some basic agreement that it’s worth trying the print isolation model. This is the model Middletown experimented with, with some success, and it’s the “Full Van Dam” we’ve been discussing here and in person. At the meeting, I offered some thoughts on how isolating print production from the rest of our work might happen, as well as some thoughts on how our copy editors’ jobs might evolve as many of them lose their print responsibilities and, instead, take on emerging web production work. There were handouts:

It remains to the rest of the summer to flesh out this plan. The conversation continues.

In doing some research for this transition, I happened across an ethnographic study by Chris Anderson, a journalism doctoral student at Columbia University, on the web production work done at Philly.com, the joint site of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. Here’s the PDF. It’s about 20-plus pages but well-written. Worth your time.

What Anderson observed in Philly was the work done by “web producers,” something he characterizes as an emerging category of news worker. These web producers take responsibility for various “channels” of the Web site, actively managing the placement of stories over the course of the day. One producer is solely responsible for the home page. In addition to managing the placement of stories, these producers are responsible for aggregating related coverage and links to coverage off-site, creating and managing user-interactives (comment boards, polls), and monitoring web traffic trends. The producer managing the home page can sometimes build and rebuild the layout of the page multiple times in a single hour. The layout of the page depends largely on the news judgment of the producer and also his or her reaction to user behavior (what’s being clicked, where is interactivity taking root?).

This model is very familiar to me. It’s not unlike the role of web producer in Wichita. (This is probably not coincidental, since Philly.com was one of the flagships of Knight Ridder’s semi-centralized Real Cities Network, which included Kansas.com.) I think something very much like this is missing at the Missourian: a team of people whose singular focus is keeping our website fresh and engaging. Creating that role here could be one of the keys to building a more digitally focused production team and a more engaging website.

What do you think?