At the time Newsday opened 25 years ago, the pages of the newspaper were being laid out by pasting words and pictures on a piece of paper, which would then be photographed and the negatives physically taken to the press room.
If there was an error, that page would have to be redone and photographed again, a process that could take an hour.
Today, all elements of the news process are connected. Fixing an error means hitting the delete button and a page can be built in ten minutes.
It’s a challenge for a generation of reporters who entered the field in the last ten years to imagine such a lengthy and onerous process. Then, a story written weeks earlier would be found in an actual newsroom library, by searching for a physical copy, turning pages until the article was found.
Now, we click through a website, type in a single word or series of words, without ever moving from our desks, living rooms, or other places of comfort. The analog has become digital, and the newsroom has been changed forever.
Where We Are Now
Even for reporters, photographers and other key players in the newsroom, who joined the workforce in the digital era, this change has been less than comfortable.
Globally, it’s resulted in shrinking newsrooms but expanding online media businesses.
It’s also created more opportunities to reach audiences, a truly global market and greater brand visibility for news organisations and journalists.
The Caribbean is still adapting. News organisations across the region are leveraging their offline brand equity online and slowly making decisions that reflect the need to meet audiences where they are, while delivering news that stays true to the tenets of journalism.
These traditional values of journalism must marry innovative and responsive presentation and news which acknowledges its audience as part of the process and is considerate of that audience.
Newsday’s digital transformation seemed to have happened slowly – and then all at once.
In reality our newsroom has been making adjustments, improvements and having the discussions necessary to deliver high-quality news content before it became obvious.
Before I joined in January, the efforts were already noticeable: the newspaper had responsive social-media pages, journalists who wanted to make a digital impact – and the same resource challenges all other media organisations face. The challenge of growing audiences and being innovative comes when doing those things with minimal resources.
Still, our team’s capabilities and enthusiasm for the digital world and its offerings are growing, expanding our digital reach and improving not just how we interact online, but the quality and integrity of the journalism we produce on all platforms.
We’re doing so with an understanding that while Twitter, Facebook and Instagram audiences may share similarities, and in some cases be the same people, they expect different types of engagement from each platform.
We are also learning, adapting, changing our minds, enjoying when we get things right – and learning from those instances as well as when we get things wrong. We understand that the concept of new media is not a stagnant thing.
Where We Want To Be
Our newsroom wants to get it right online, all the time. We want to earn your trust. It’s why each reporter has created an online profile to interact with our digital audience, and it is why we make corrections when we get things wrong.
We want to be known as the news organisation that delivers real news in real time, understanding that journalists have a responsibility to combat “fake news” with news content that is authentic. We want to be innovative with available resources, to tell stories using new and developing methods and to tell real stories that matter to real people.
How Will We Get There?
When we have conversations in the newsroom, I often say: the limit is where we place it.
Digital media give us the opportunity to explore creative presentation, merging them with new and emerging storytelling techniques.
We know we want to be a leader in news content, digital and otherwise, but to get there requires resources, some of which we have and some we need.
It also requires a renewed commitment from journalists who are willing to try new things and to understand that the journalism that used to be defined by words on a sheet of paper, is no more. Our newsroom has to accept that journalism is living, breathing and beyond the page, television or radio station.
We’ll also get there by constantly learning about how the media environment is changing and responding to those changes.
I think, though, one of the most important ways to get there is by having newsrooms and news managers committed to facilitating news coverage that positions itself in a global context, and benefits from the type of physical and digital resources that creates great content.
We must also listen to readers and audiences to determine where they are, what they want to be informed about, and how we can make our stories, big and small, relevant to a modern – and increasingly online – audience.