Merge your print and online news rooms – why the big debate?

Another day, another commentator discussing the potential perils of merging your web and print production teams.

Who knows if the Telegraph’s current wheel and spoke newsroom strategy will work? Will newspaper publishers in the north of England really be able spread their news across print, web and video?

Allow me to venture a guess: combined web and print newsrooms work.

As shown by the hugely successful NME, which merged its print and web newsrooms back in 2000, it’s a no brainer. Working in a merged newsroom myself (also back in 2000), one news editor with responsibility for both ‘channels’ simply keeps the following in mind:

  • Keep all exclusives (ie news and interviews no one else is likely to have) for print. When the mag comes out, then release them online – allowing time for newstand sales.
  • Report all news agency output, PR’d and diary items – ie anything that’s public domain – on your site. But report items with your own unique twist / flavour.

There. It even works for video and radio content. Treat them the same way as all globally breaking news. If you’re lucky enough to have users signed up to a premium service, then again hold back the exlcusive content for that money making operation.

Separate news rooms can be frought with problems. As well as competing for news, these teams are competing for ad revenue. But it’s obivous that an ad sales team’s position is stronger if they can offer slots across both operations.

Okay, the Telegraph is a case in point – it has issues with perceivably going down market / trying to appeal to a younger audience – but the question of ‘whether to merge or not to merge’ content production teams has to be put to rest. Please?