The following is Ryan Frank’s evaluation and advice to The Hullabaloo after his consult.
Overview: The newspaper should consider immediate and dramatic changes to
improve its services to the campus and the education of its staff.
- Real-time news: Train and equip reporters, photographers and editors to break news on the web and social media. Train reporters to use their phones to write, photograph and take video.
- Print format: Consider whether the traditional, folded newspaper approach continues to be the best format for your readers. Other options to consider include the “alt-weekly” style that emphasizes visuals and a broader variety of story topics, especially entertainment coverage.
- Merge with Tube: See the Tube action plan for more.
- Marketing: Create a marketing campaign to promote Hullabaloo
readership in print and online.
- Revenue strategy: The Hullabaloo depends on print for nearly all its revenue. This is not sustainable. Consider a new strategy focused not on the product (print) but client needs. (See The Future chapter for more.)
How to implement those actions
The editor has made great progress already. She started planning for change and is documenting the experience at https://hullsite.wordpress.com.
- Research: Clearly understand the problem.
- Strategy: Create a plan for change. Topics to cover: Newsroom structure,
daily operations, training programs, documentation, equipment needs.
- Inspiration: She will need to inspire the staff to pull off such big changes.
- Implementation: Put the plan into place. She expects to have her plan done by April 30. The Hullabaloo could begin implementing it next fall.
THE HULLABALOO & DIGITAL FIRST
The idea of building a digital-first newsroom sounds simple. But it never is. If the Hullabaloo pursues a new approach and structure to covering news, here’s a quick guide for how the staff might get there.
Structure: The organizational chart reflects your values. If digital news is a priority, your organizational chart must prove that. Below is one option for your structure. It elevates online to a place that’s equal to print, and it does the same for art. If you’re considering the “alt-weekly” approach, this would be worth considering. The duplication of news, sports and culture in online and print categories may be redundant. But college editors often find it difficult to get reporters to do both online and print well. This structure simplifies the job of each editor and reporter to be focused on print or digital. It also builds accountability for the quality of your products (print or digital).
Work flow: A digital-first newsroom has to move fast. The Hullabaloo will need to develop a system where reporters and front-line editors can post news without cumbersome editing processes. That will require that reporters and editors be trained well on journalism ethics and standards but also the technical process of posting, tagging and media uploading.
Steve Buttry: The Hullabaloo leadership should review the writings of Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor at Digital First Media. He’s been writing for years about how newsrooms can and should evolve. He’s also been willing to talk with college editors and has written on college newsrooms as well.