Martin Jonsson, deputy editor-in-chief of Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, says newsrooms need the flexibility to deliver both breaking news and planned stories.
When Svenska Dagbladet, a daily newspaper in Sweden, saw its newsroom staff cut by 25 per cent in 2009, it had to reorganize. Like so many newsrooms, it faced the challenge of delivering high-quality content with fewer resources.
Speaking at last week's World Editors Forum, Jonsson said that SVD has risen to the challenge: It has won more awards than ever before and has a stable readership.
So what’s its strategy? A mix of what it calls fast and slow news, which means a lot of planning and producing content well ahead of the publishing date.
The “fast” team works on what needs to get out now. It’s largely focused on a 24-hour window and tomorrow's newspaper. The “slow” team, on the other hand, focuses on long-term planning, including features and the roll-out of enterprise stories.
The goal is to find the right balance. At SVD, at least 40 per cent of all news pages are pre-produced.
Jonsson says good planning keeps costs down and eases stress in the newsroom. But it also forces the newspaper to focus on high-quality content that won’t appear anywhere else.
Front pages are planned seven to 10 days ahead, though it’s back to square one if a major news story breaks. Scoops and enterprise stories are planned weeks ahead. This has caused some grief for reporters who worry that their stories will leak, but Jonsson says that hasn’t happened.
So far, says Jonsson, the model seems to be working. He says they have had more scoops, more investigative stories and generally more creativity in the newsroom.
He says they didn’t reduce the number of pages but have fewer, longer stories. On weekends, they have six-page stories in each section of the newspaper. They rely heavily on infographics and visuals.
Jonsson says the fact that the content is exclusive ensures that it is shared on social media. That, in turn, helps the newspaper.
“It’s a mindset that has to be changed.”
For more on Svenska Dagbladet's reorganisation please see here.