Posted on December 15, 2007
Breaking news on the Web should be routine
In an upbeat, happy column from the readers representative at The San Diego Union-Tribune, we consider the U-T’s Breaking News Team, which provides round-the-clock local news on the newspaper’s Web site.
“How do so few do so much so quickly?” is apparently the question inspired by the team’s performance over the past two and a half years.
Team members confer with their editors frequently, but they often edit postings for each other, and they don’t wait for assignments or debate whether to head out for a promising story.
Karen Kucher, one of the original members of the team and an assistant editor, said, “Our default is supposed to be to go.” …
“When something big happens, it’s amazing how everybody just sort of figures out how to cover the news. It’s seamless,” Kucher said.
Compare the T-U’s effective modus operandi to the newsroom organization at the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, which “was caught completely flat-footed” when a gunman killed eight people in a shopping mall on Dec. 5, according to Alan Mutter, who accused the W-H of “the worst online coverage in memory by a newspaper with a major story breaking in its own backyard.” Ouch.
The poor coverage evidently was caused by a lack of contingency planning on the part of editors, Web producers, reporters, photographers and all the other people who are responsible for rapidly, thoughtfully and accurately gathering the information and visual assets necessary to tell a story like this in the age of multimedia.
Editorial strategy and planning for the 21st century: San Diego’s got it. Omaha didn’t. How about your newsroom?
Thanks for the San Diego tip to The Moderate Voice, Dec. 14.