| ASNE's annual convention is the largest annual gathering of newsroom leaders from daily newspapers and other news organizations. At ASNE 2012, editors and leaders in the field of journalism education will gather for programs focused on "What It Takes" to lead the digital and mobile transformation of a modern newsroom.
Small newsrooms, big journalism
By Kara Rose
As the size of newsrooms dwindles, many news organizations have struggled to carry out their duties with meager staffs and limited resources.
Four top editors who have successfully used their smaller newsrooms to full potential addressed discussed how to do world-class reporting despite disadvantages in a 24-hour news cycle.
David Newhouse, editor of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., said he looks at his newsroom as "a big dog in a small dog's body." The Patriot-News covers five counties, the state capital and Penn State University with only 19 full-fledged reporters and broke the news about the sexual assault case against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky.
The key, Newhouse says, was enterprise journalism.
"We live, we think, we talk - literally, we breathe - enterprise every day," Newhouse said. Developing enterprise stories and finding original sources, he said, "makes best use of the staff cuts we are all facing."
Also on the panel were A.M. Sheehan, editor of the weekly Advertiser Democrat in Norway, Maine, and Mike Connelly, executive editor of the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Fla., who said his success started with building a "climate" in the newsroom, beginning with a "no distractions policy."
Connelly and Newhouse said being a "cheerleader" is one of the most important ways to set the proper newsroom climate. Another, Connelly said, is challenging your team, rewarding its victories and developing successors.
"You have to believe in your newsroom," Connelly said, adding that delegating downward inspires potential successors by "building their confidence and giving them room to grow."
Sheehan, who has a staff of two full-time reporters, said that although her readership is interested in "yesterday's news," her publication was still able to uncover a low-income housing scandal.
She stressed the importance of always knowing why her organization is reporting on a story in the first place, noting that time management, efficient writing and community cooperation made that possible.
The relationship fortified between the community and the publication is something Sheehan and other panelists found vital to their survival.
Manny Garcia, executive editor and general manager of El Nuevo Herald in Miami said going into the community builds readership and tips off reporters about underreported topics there.
He compared his newsroom model to that of a Ferrari - "a hot car built from the ground up." He said he seeks help from his staff to improve the publication's brand.
The panelists each ultimately emphasized high-impact journalism for their respective communities. These stories, Newhouse said, inspire enacted change.
"When you made an impact," he said, "... it has a ripple effect in the community."
Kara Rose is a student at the University of Maryland. She is one of several local university journalism students reporting live from ASNE 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Apr 04 2012, 04:35 PM
About Amanda Knowles
Amanda Knowles is Web & Social Media Manager at the Newspaper Association of America. Before coming to NAA, Amanda spent four years working in print journalism, both at the college and professional level. She has worked as a copy editor and news page designer for two daily newspapers in northwestern Pennsylvania, The Erie Times-News and The Meadville Tribune. Most recently, she collaborated on The American Observer, the online magazine edited and produced by graduate journalism students at American University in Washington, D.C. Amanda believes strongly in the secure future of the newspaper, and is excited to be a participant in the movement to integrate traditional print media into the burgeoning digital world.