USA Today has only five reporters covering Congress, but 27 covering entertainment news, the Gannett Blog reported, after its editor Jim Hopkins obtained copies of newsroom flow charts dated October 21-22. Hopkins, a former USA Today reporter, believes that "this is the first time USAT's editorial staffing breakdown has been made public."
The document showing the distribution of staff shows that as well as the five staff allocated to Congress/Politics, there are another six assigned to White House/Legal, another four to Federal and five to Economy/Jobs. This total number covering political issues is still less than the 27 focused on entertainment however, which accounts for by far the largest group.
There are now five Investigations reporters and five Database, six War/Defense, six Science/Energy/Environment , eight Your Life (a newly introduced section in both print and online), ten Travel and 13 Tech/Autos, for example.
Another table entitled Content Distribution/Programming shows the managers that are in charge of print publications, the website, production, mobile platforms and reader advocacy and the editors within each section. These staff are clearly divided by platform.
These documents seem to further describe changes that were reported around the dates that the documents were produced by Poynter's Rick Edmonds who spoke to publisher Dave Hunke. The paper was disassembling its universal desk and a five-year effort at newsroom integration," Edmonds reported and planned to replace this with "editing hubs by platform." Staff were to be organised around 15 distinct content areas and each will have its own top editor and a dedicated general manager to develop advertising and revenue opportunities, Hunke told Edmonds. Several managing editor jobs were eliminated.
The changes were made with the intention of allowing the paper to expand its mobile and tablet products and to fully take advantage of what these new platforms have to offer, the idea being that offerings are "designed and edited to match the unique characteristics and markets" in both categories rather than just moving material from print and the website.
Adapting the newsroom to incorporate the changing nature of digital distribution undoubtedly makes sense: whether or not this is the most effective method is yet to be proven. The high number of reporters dedicated to entertainment news may well attract criticism: is it justifiable to assign so many to 'soft' news? Is this what readers want?
Source: Gannett Blog