By: Joe Strupp
San Francisco Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein has announced a slew of changes in his newsroom operation, including the naming of a new online editor, former blogger and public relations professional Eve Batey.
Bronstein’s changes come just weeks after the paper announced the cutting of 100 of its 400 newsrooms staffers in a major cost-cutting plan, which included the departures of Managing Editor Robert Rosenthal and longtime Washington correspondent Marc Sandalow.
“We now have a significantly flatter and smaller senior management structure in the newsroom,” Bronstein wrote. “But there is no question that our future is so inextricably tied to online and digital that the person who oversees all things web for the newsroom should have the authority to operate at the highest levels — throughout the room, with the Gate and with any other online entities that will benefit our journalism and our readers/users/audience.”
The announced changes will affect coverage from Sacramento to Washington, D.C.
The entire memo is below:
I’m very pleased to announce that Eve Batey will be the Deputy Managing Editor for Online at The Chronicle.
We now have a significantly flatter and smaller senior management structure in the newsroom. But there is no question that our future is so inextricably tied to online and digital that the person who oversees all things web for the newsroom should have the authority to operate at the highest levels — throughout the room, with the Gate and with any other online entities that will benefit our journalism and our readers/users/audience.
The title is partly old school while the role is not. The reason to mix the two is to underscore how important it is to shift from within our traditional approaches to our craft.
Eve does not have the traditional newspaper/journalism background most of us do, but the critical web-oriented talents and experience she does bring, combined with the skills we have will make us a much stronger team, one that is able to weather and take advantage of the upheaval happening in our profession.
As a DME, Eve joins three veteran, committed and very talented journalists: Nanette, Steve and Meredith.
In this most wired, innovative and sophisticated of regions, we want to make sure that the skills of this newsroom are made available to as many people and in as many ways as possible. Those skills are valuable to the public, make no mistake about it. But we have to adjust what it is we do and how to reflect a revolutionary shift in culture and habits. After all, there still ought to be no better place where culture is reflected, where information is gathered and where context is explained than in a talented newsroom.
Eve’s role is to ensure that the Chronicle’s online presence is a multimedia-enhanced reflection of the talents of its newsroom, and in conjunction with its print presence. She will help us grow our relationships with the communities we serve. Internally, she’ll eliminate the “I don’t know who to talk to about this!” factor from newsroom discussions of online needs — she’ll be the person to talk to, and will be the room’s chief liaison for all things web. Her ultimate purpose is to dissolve the walls between the online and print Chronicle functions, and to develop a newsroom that’s producing for both, simultaneously. She’ll also leverage her web, technology, marketing, and community knowledge to make the online Chronicle as excellent, useful, and successful as it can be.
She’s already working toward these goals by changing the mechanics so we’ll have a smoother flow of articles from the newsroom to the web, and has been putting together training programs to help us convert our work more easily for use online. She’s also the newsroom-side overseer of our article comments rollout and management. Behind the scenes, she has accomplished a great deal in helping all of us make much better use of technology.
Marcus Chan will continue the excellent work of his multi-media group, which will keep innovating and helping us adapt to all the digital possibilities. The national awards and acknowledgements that Marcus, Jim Irwin and the multi-media team have accumulated speak for themselves.
In addition, Andrew Ross will be moving from his current position as Executive Foreign-National Editor to the position of Interactive Editor. In that job, Andrew will be responsible for getting the most out of the online “conversations” that take place between Chronicle journalists and our audience, and web conversations that occur as a result of our work. Andrew has already been engaging people regularly through his blog, The Ross Report.
If you just look at the involvement of readers via comments on recent newsroom work – the Tom Stienstra blog on the Half Dome death, the Coyote shootings in Golden Gate Park and the tragic drowning at Great America – you can see how engaged people are in the stories we write and how that engagement can then be valuable to us in a variety of ways, including comments that are published in the paper.
Both the Interactive and Multi-Media editors will report directly to Eve, as will the Public Editor.
Public Editor Heidi Swillinger, who has been so instrumental in our pioneering efforts to enlist people outside the newsroom in our work, will continue and expand the extraordinary job she’s done with Two cents and Project Rank and File.
Attached are Eve’s bio and an organizational chart for the web/online operation.
With Andrew’s departure from the F/N desk, we will be reorganizing coverage of Washington and Sacramento. Jim Brewer will take over as National/Foreign editor, reporting to Steve Proctor. The Washington bureau will become part of the National/Foreign desk, with Andy Pollack continuing to report to Jim and supervise the bureau’s writers and political correspondent, Carla Marinucci. Bob Miller, also reporting to Jim, will oversee the National and Foreign wire desk, supervising editors Jack Epstein and Jason Lloren. Bob also will serve as the editor in charge on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Sacramento bureau will become part of the Metro desk. For now, Michael Collier will oversee the reporters in the Capitol, as well as John Wildermuth, while a permanent arrangement is developed.
Among the benefits of these changes will be a more logical structure for the newsroom ? with the Washington Bureau and national desks working together, and the state news from Sacramento being part of the Metro operation.