Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Times Union closes bureaus, changes focus to mobile journalism as JRC remains "digital first"

The Albany Times Union, a Hearst Corporation newspaper, announced Wednesday in an article that it plans two close its bureaus in Troy and Saratoga Springs and "embrace an industry trend toward mobile journalism."

The article went on to state that the change could increase the presence of Times Union journalists in New York's Capital District due to the fact that their personnel would "be equipped and trained to work as mobile journalists who can report and file stories from outside a traditional newsroom".

Further down, they bring up the notion and benefits of "coffee-shop" journalism, mentioning how Journal Register Co., which owns The Record in Troy and The Saratogian in Saratoga Springs, has been "experimenting" with the additions of coffee shops and Internet cafes to its newsrooms.

First off, good for them. It's nice to see media companies come to the realization that having physical remote offices are a thing of the past.

However, the article is a tad misleading in its structure.

The majority of Times Union staffers have been filing their articles and photographs from the field for some time now - we cover many of the same areas and have seen this with our own eyes for about two years, if not longer - so this really isn't something new.

That fact gets highlighted all the way at the bottom of the article: "(TU Editor Rex) Smith noted that mobile journalism is already widely practiced at the Times Union, with the demands of the paper's website requiring that stories and photos be filed without a desk or office."

In my opinion, these industry changes forced us to change quite some time ago - referenced by the immediate changes Journal Register CEO John Paton instituted when he took over the company in Feb. 2010 and made it a goal for each JRC property to focus on "digital first, print last" each and every day.
The TU article makes small mention of JRC and our local newspapers as "experimenting" with coffee-shop journalism in the article, but it's the readers of each JRC publication that have truly noticed the difference.

Paton recently described how far the company has come in the last year, which I previously blogged about here, including large growths in our online audience.

Employees of The Record have been equipped with mobile technology, including pocket-sized high-definition Flip video cameras, as well as wireless netbooks which allow reporters to file their stories from the field without a Wi-Fi connection, both of which have allowed reporters to produce of the content that readers want to see.

Staffers have been on the scene of every event they've covered over the last year and the results speak for themselves.

Journal Register Co. also made headlines throughout the newspaper industry early this year after unveiling its first “open newsroom” in December 2010 at the Register Citizen Newsroom Café in Torrington, Conn. The format invites members of the public in to enjoy available coffee and pastries, meet with reporters in person, and even sit in on daily planning meetings, which are also broadcast live on the newspaper’s website.

The open newsroom model is currently being expanded in different levels across JRC’s 18 daily newspapers, ranging from empowering groups of bloggers as citizen journalists to hosting community-driven forums which focus on issues important to local readers.

Such forums will begin at The Record on March 8 with tips for filing your taxes, followed by sessions on Irish genealogy, bass fishing, social media, and several more throughout the year.

The Record and The Saratogian are committed to complete coverage of our communities and only have plans to further expand that coverage with our ever-growing lists of community blogs.

We'll see whether the TU can make similar claims in a year or whether they are just touting the idea of mobile journalism to cover up the fact that they don't want to pay for costly office space anymore.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

a. Nobody outside your newsroom cares that you were first.

b. Why would they want to pay for "costly office space?" I'm sure they'd gladly admit its a cost saving move.

March 4, 2011 at 7:24 PM 

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