Traditionally, The Hullabaloo staff has transition three issues before the end of the academic year, so the new staff can dive into their new positions before the year ends. It gives the new staff the opportunity to ask the old staff for questions, tips and guidance as they embark on their first few issues. This year, this transition was particularly rough for The Hullabaloo because a young staff came up, and many seniors who made up the previous staff did not give as much guidance as was necessary to make the transition something near smooth.
Given the substantial digital-first, organizational changes that will take effect for the new staff this year, that transition was not plausible.
- The new staff would not be performing the same particular tasks as the previous staff. This hands-on guidance by the previous staff to the new staff is mostly useful for the particulars involved in someone’s duties, and these would not match up given the restructuring of jurisdiction and responsibilities behind 75 percent of the positions.
- The new staff would have to learn the old way using positions that don’t match the old process and then learn the new way directly after that.
- Practically speaking, the plans, policies and overall paperwork would not be completed for the last three issues. Time-wise, producing detailed job descriptions by elections is presenting a large obstacle for me at this point given the size of the Board.
As a result, this year’s staff is making its first major contribution to The Hullabaloo‘s digital transformation by taking on the last three issues of the year in addition to its traditional 24 issues. This extra responsibility has weighed on the staff, however, and so The Hullabaloo is producing a shortened version of its original newspaper, with no attached requirements for online articles for the remainder of the year: a content casualty. I am not particularly thrilled by this decision, but I understand the importance of The Hullabaloo staff’s sanity, and in the end temporary sacrifices will have to be made in order to take big steps in the right direction.
As the end of the academic year comes into sight, in addition to weekly duties these are the overarching tasks surrounding the digitalization of The Hullabaloo that I personally need to complete before May 9 when I leave for a three-month journalism internship with the National Journalism Center:
- Write up 18 individualized contracts for Board positions, edit and post Board application
- Organize Managing Board elections, elect Managing Board members
- Organize Board elections, elect Board members
- Write up flow chart of 2014-15 weekly and monthly routine newspaper schedule
- Research and submit request for basic digital media equipment
- Complete transfer of missing online archives from previous web provider
- Finalize payment rates for business department positions, re-submit/submit corresponding paperwork
- Write up and send out guide for summer issue
- Plan and hold first Board meeting
- Meet with advisor to edit and virtually distribute Summer Journalism Experience brochure and application
- Conduct Skype session with Ryan Frank
- Compile digitalization report and contact Steve Buttry for feedback
- Submit Hullabaloo work for College Media awards
- Determine 2014-15 production schedule
Most likely I’ve forgotten something, but this list should keep me grounded for the next few weeks as we reach closer to the April 30 deadline when we will produce a digital-first report to work from during the summer and fall.
To increase clarity or responsibilities, which is one major concern staff members had going into this transition, I’ve decided to introduce detailed contracts for each position. These are contracts are to be signed and turned in with applications. The idea is that these contracts will help make prospective Board members aware of the particular responsibilities that correspond with their job title and eliminate discrepencies that often occur when expectations are blurry. However, I anticipate discrepencies even with these contracts, given the uncharted territory for The Hullabaloo. The following is one example of a Managing Board contract – specifically the Managing Editor’s.
The Tulane Hullabaloo seeks to inform and engage its readers through honest and relevant reporting and to facilitate interaction within the Tulane community and beyond. By becoming an elected member of the Tulane Hullabaloo Board, you are agreeing to act ethically and responsibly and to consider the well-being of the paper and its staff in your actions.
I agree to perform the following weekly tasks if elected 2014-15 Managing Editor for The Hullabaloo:
- Attend Managing Board meeting and content meeting
- Approve print priority list for each section editor before stories are assigned to reporters
- Approve rolling story ideas for online, excluding breaking stories when unable
- Edit all content last for print production on production night
- Assist section editors during content emergencies
- Supervise day-to-day content production, online and in print
In addition to the above weekly tasks, I agree to perform the following duties:
- Attend staff training and Summer Journalism Experience
- Attend monthly Board meetings
- Monitor online/social media content activity
- Address overall/section content issues when necessary
- Address communication issues between section editors
- Attend copy editing meeting monthly
- Attend sections’ reporters’ meeting monthly
- Meet with Training Coordinator monthly
I understand that I am first and foremost in charge of and responsible for all written content produced by The Hullabaloo. I commit myself to maintain The Hullabaloo’s standard of content, and more, I intend to improve its quality of content.
Print Name: ________________________________________________________ Date: _____________
Signature: __________________________________________________________ Date: _____________
The following is the platform I present to the Staff Editorial Board for the elections process.
The Hullabaloo: Digital First Media Company
Perhaps the single most important adaptive trait is to recognize that we are in a revolution, in its sense of a change so large that the existing structure of society can’t contain it without being altered by it … There is no solution to the present crisis. One corollary is there is no stable state coming to the practice of news any time soon. We are not living through a transition from A to B but a transition from one to many … Individual journalists in whatever area of expertise need to think of experimentation with the aim of innovation as something they practice rather than endure.
C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell, Clay Shirky
The Hullabaloo must embrace new technology to remain an effective news source to the Tulane community, but with this transition comes a need for widespread trust between staff members, from the Managing Board to the first-time contributor. I propose an intense focus on front-end education. Basic training, in technology and content, will give reporters the tools they need to submit better quality work and thereby, eliminate excess stages of editing.
To foster this education process and streamline the online vs. print production process I propose an extensive, yet vital, change in staff structure. While none of these recommendations can guarantee an obstacle-free leap into the digital age, I am confident these changes will move The Hullabaloo into present-day journalism.
Digitalization – Efficiency – Education
- I recommend that before school begins The Hullabaloo holds individual-focused training for the Board that will develop skills each staff member will need for his/her position, as well as fill in gaps in basic knowledge of The Hullabaloo, as opposed to general education.
- I recommend two reporter training sessions per month, run by the Training Coordinator with the assistance of the Recruitment Coordinator, the Personnel Director and each section associate. During these sessions, reporters would learn how to post articles to the website, how to use social media as a journalism tool and how to write a basic news, feature and opinion piece. Reporters would be required to attend one session before their first article.
- The print team would operate much like the newsroom does now, with one production night per week. Each article would go through approximately four edits. The newspaper will be a shorter version of what The Hullabaloo puts out now. One senior reporter would be in charge of an in-depth feature every two weeks in addition to his/her regular weekly assignment.
- The online team would produce content daily, at least one article per day, using staggering deadlines throughout the week and holding one weekly reporters meeting. However, only the online section editor and one copy editor would edit these articles before they were published online. One senior reporter would be in charge of directly assisting the section editor in breaking stories, and an associate would be in charge of educating/guiding reporters.
- Copy editors would be assigned to one particular section, develop a close relationship with the corresponding section editor and be responsible for fact-checking/editing the section’s print and online content. Copy editor associates would fact-check/edit smaller sections of print.
- I recommend a more intense focus on recruitment using the Recruitment Coordinator. This position would be solely concentrated on finding future Hullabaloo staff: going to organizations to speak, putting up flyers, reaching out with social media, etc. He/she would work closely with the Training Coordinator. In addition, the Personnel Director would hold more social events for all Hullabaloo staff to integrate newcomers.
- I recommend that The Hullabaloo’s business department separates completely from content and uses revenue strategies outside of advertising, such as renting out services like layout design and event photography.