Last week the Cedar Rapids Gazette announced changes in the organization of its newsroom, namely the new role of former editor Steve Buttry as "Information Content Conductor." This change is part of broader functional reorganization led by Chuck Peters, Gazette Communications CEO, who is determined to generate innovative strategies to combat the difficulties faced by printed newspapers.
In the announcement, Buttry describes the reorganization of the company and his new title. Buttry will lead an independent organization focusing exclusively on developing content from the Gazette's professional journalists as well as the community. This content will be published "digitally without editing and without the limitations of products." There will also be another organization headed by the editor that will plan and edit projects, such as the Gazette and GazetteOnline, using Buttry's content as well as others.
According to Martin Langeveld in an article for the Nieman Journalism Lab, this reorganization is an innovative new approach to journalism that extends beyond new titles. Langeveld claims that most newspaper companies have not committed to becoming digital enterprises, and though they claim to be in "online-first mode," there still exists a mindset that favors the printed product. Buttry's organization will be an online-only entity like many others, Langeveld says, except that "it will be part of a forward-thinking organization in which content can be remixed and republished in multiple ways to reach audiences through traditional print products, niche publications, multiple web sites and social networks."
Peters' vision for the company includes transforming the Gazette into social media rather than communications media, improving interactions with the community, creating a collaboration model, and changing the company culture to a "startup" mode. By disaggregating its entire business into a set of collaborating entities that could function as separate businesses without changing the company's dynamics, the Gazette allows itself the freedom to discard potential outdated elements, such as the printed publication, in the future.
Langeveld believes the new Gazette with its different collaborating units operating in startup mode could provide a beneficial business model for other publications. He suggests that other online-only news start ups might want to follow the Cedar Rapids model to meet the challenges of the future "by entering collaborations with printers and others to find additional distribution channels and revenue streams."
Source: Nieman Journalism Lab