Ifra Newsplex Aids English Daily’s Multimedia Stategy

By: E&P Staff

In charge of the convergence project at England’s Nottingham Evening Post, Deputy Editor Martin Done brought in Ifra Newsplex to support planning and implementation of a multimedia strategy to increase audience.

Part of Northcliffe Media within Daily Mail General Trust plc, the Post is a mid-size regional daily that circulates approximately 60,000 copies, a number that has been declining for 25 years. Before 2006, Northcliffe Web sites were run by a separate company, Northcliffe Electronic Publishing. Individual papers had little to do with publication of news on the Web, which was handled by an automatic feed.

In 2006, however, control was handed to the newspapers, many of which appointed Web editors to run the sites. But Nottingham Evening Post took an opposite strategy, according to Done: “We wanted to involve everyone … and not to have any Web-specific role, thus spreading the workload across the entire newsroom,” the editor said. “This proved the most important decision as there was nothing to undo a few months later when we developed our integrated strategy.”

Sarah Schantin Williams from Ifra Newsplex was retained to run awareness workshops for the newsroom to highlight what was being done in editorial convergence around the world. This became the starting point for the change process. Further workshops with editorial executives on the Post’s strategy were conducted together, resulting in a document that set out where the Post wanted to be in the future.

A first step was an analysis of the digital and print audience, and the existing workflows, organization and infrastructure. Fixing identified inefficiencies, gaps and structural anomalies helped free up resources for some of new Web roles.

The entire editorial staff has completed the first phase of comprehensive training that provided familiarity with new workflows and individual responsibilities, and basic multimedia skills, including producing audio, slideshows, and Web publishing. At the end of June, the new newsroom went into operation, with a central hub for editorial conferences.

Among the Nottingham project’s objectives, a fundamental one is growing audience for the content by delivering it in a form that users want at a time they want. The newsroom aimed to produce extra content from existing resources where possible, giving “the best stories … the most effective multimedia treatment for the audience,” Done said. Limited resources meant focusing on the biggest opportunities. The newsroom also renewed its focus on breaking news.

“There was a fear that we would be asking already busy journalists to take on even more work,” Done said. “We told them that we would be looking at developing new workflows that would make the whole news process quicker and more efficient, changing structures and responsibilities together with a new infrastructure. Our message was that we wanted people to be working smarter, not for longer.”

Phases 2 and 3 of training will be carried out in fall and spring. The Web site is being redesigned and moved to a more user-friendly content-management system this summer. A series of hyper-local sites are in the pipeline, as is the integration strategy’s roll-out to other departments, including advertising, newspaper sales and IT.

An international center for enabling newsrooms for the future, Ifra’s Newsplex provides advice and support for developing and implementing product and newsroom strategies with the goal of increasing the value, quality and performance of the news operation in a changing media environment. Services cover strategy definition, product and process benchmarking, executive study tours, project and change management, and a comprehensive talent-management program for journalistic and management skills for analog and digital media.

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