Thursday, December 30, 2010

Touring the Register Citizen's "Newsroom Cafe" in Torrington, CT.

The Register Citizen - Torrington, CT
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to take a ride out to Torrington, Conn. with Record publisher Jim Murphy and editor Lisa Lewis to visit our sister paper, The Register Citizen, and tour their revolutionary new open-newsroom setup.

As Murphy had recently announced, there are plenty of changes on the way for 2011, including doing more with our Community Media Lab and the possibility of making changes to our building to accommodate and encourage more community engagement.

We got in shortly after 10 a.m. and started taking a short tour around the offices with publisher Matt DeRienzo, who led us around the property and pointed out several of the features available on site.

Matt DeRienzo leads the tour.

Plenty of space to relax.
Instead of the usual receptionist desk you might find at most newspapers, including The Record currently, the doors to the Register Citizen lead you directly into the open space in which all of the newsroom, advertising, production, and other departments are located to the left.

On the right as you walk in is a cozy arrangement of leather couches and chairs, surrounded by community bulletin boards, a large flat-screen TV, the paper's microfilm collection, and the entrance to a large cafeteria where visitors can purchase a cup of coffee or a pastry and relax at one of the many tables.

The Newsroom Cafe
DeRienzo explained that he hoped to host local art exhibits in a portion of the cafeteria in the future and perhaps do more in the way of experimenting with the space as times goes on.

Heading back out into the main space, you immediately see some of the Community Media Lab computers that have been set up for the public to use, as well as a new microfilm reader that is able to print directly to a nearby laser printer as well as e-mail PDFs - making it a great resource for those looking to do some research about any local events that may have happened over the years.
Daily news meetings held here.

A little further into the office you'll find the centralized meeting area where the staff hold daily news meetings, which are live-streamed over the Internet, and encouraged the public to participate in person or via an online chat.

Live web stats in the newsroom.
Another flat-screen sits on a beam in the meeting area, where a web cam sits to live-stream meetings and the monitor displays updated stats on the Register Citizen's web traffic throughout the day.

As you keep going further into the paper, you notice that the majority of reporters sit in low cubicles so that they can easily see and communicate with both each other and community members who may wander in throughout the day and want to talk about an issue or just say hello.

Additionally, there are also rooms off of the main newsroom available for community use - a classroom and small conference room where DiRienzo hopes to host a variety of programs in the near future.

On-site classroom.


After the tour, we all were thoroughly impressed with what we had seen and the approach that the open-newsroom offers.

Truly open newsroom.
While we are planning some major reorganizations with The Record's building in Troy, we'll have a few more constraints on what we can do here than they had in Torrington for the simple fact that we are trying to improve the layout of an existing building rather than design a new space.

Also, the Register Citizen prints their paper off site at another sister location now and did not have to factor a gigantic printing press into their design for the new space.


Nice graphic lining the wall near cafe.
All in all, the trip provided us with some beneficial insight into how an open-newsroom could function in Troy and what challenges we will have to overcome to create our own version of one.

Everything to do with a redesign in our Troy office is still in the brainstorm/planning stages for now, but as details get firmed up and we develop concrete plans, I'll be sure to update with more info on what's coming.

It's been a very transformative year at The Record and throughout JRC as we've started to become the "Digital First" company that CEO John Paton envisioned.

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