Spokesman's "Gang of 8" report

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Spokesman-Review‘s newsroom reinvention. A group of eight (“Gang of 8”)young journalists at the SR were in charge of meeting, brainstorming and putting together a report outlining ideas about the reorganization of the SR newsroom – not an easy task, to say the least.

There’s been a lot of online discussion about the Gang’s ability and level of experience/knowledge, as seen via comments on Nick’s blog posts, above. The only thing I’ll say about that is the Gang’s competency level is apparent when you read the report.

I was first made aware of the report by one of the many SR blogs, “News is a Conversation.” Editor Steve Smith posted about the report and linked to the report itself – read his post here, where you can also find the link to the report.

Just a couple thoughts, because I haven’t had time to really read the report in-depth:

  • I really liked the idea of a universal copy desk, with staggered 10-hour shifts. First of all, the idea of working four 10-hour days is extremely appealing to me with a background mainly in copy editing. I also think the copy desk seeing everything before it goes online is excellent – but makes me wonder what the process is for web content.
  • I also really liked the idea of redefining news departments and combining many of the desks into the local department. Enough said.

Including the “consensus suggestions” and “minority suggestions” was great. It not only showed the Gang was open-minded, but was open in that it proved a group with disagreement can make a lot of headway. Some thoughts included in these suggestions:

  • “Remove the online subscription wall.”
    I thought this was really ballsy, to say the least. Many journalists in the industry have strong opinions about newspapers online (I’ve heard them expressed at work) and to take such a strong stance in so few words really says something. It’ll be interesting, I think, to see what comes of this, if anything.
    I can’t, however, decide yet if I agree or disagree with this. On one hand, you have the idea that newspapers are supposed to be serving the public and by doing so online, having a subscription wall would certainly hinder that duty. However, newspapers are also a business and one could reason that, if a paper isn’t going to charge for their content online, they should also not charge for the print edition. Tough stuff.
  • “Revamp the 10:30 a.m. meeting. Have more conversations about quality, style and content so reporters and editors can share ideas and develop a bigger-picture sense of our coverage.”
    Touche. The first staff meeting I attended at the Herald (nevermind that it was just this past Friday) was about three hours long and we talked about everything from how to deal with sources, to content, to getting to know other staff members… It was a great opportunity for team-building and, especially for the fresh staffers like me, an excellent opportunity to learn about journalism, the newspaper and the community.
  • “Condense nation/world news to quick hits and direct people to best sources for these stories.”
    If a newspaper starts to tell me a story, they sure as hell better finish it. I didn’t pick up the paper to have it tell me to go online or read another paper or check out a TV station.
  • “Reorganize the paper so that A is all local news, B is all wire news.”
    I actually really like that idea. I think the Spokesman should be a paper that is focused on local news, and bringing all that local news to the front of the paper would be great for the community while still keeping in mind that Spokane residents still have a need for nation and world news.

0 thoughts on “Spokesman's "Gang of 8" report

  1. Just to clarify, as Nick seems to be afraid of negative responses (even as he’s linking to false, clone posts, which only proves his inability to be a real journalist):

    Shaking up the newsrooms can be a good thing. Doing it under the guise of “Only the young can say …” is beyond weak, though.

    His responses generally cover information that either his team left out of the report or did not cover clearly enough. This is a common flaw in newsrooms: They refuse to be transparent, which then allows them to shout down critics by saying: “You don’t know what we’re trying to do!”

    I also should mention I asked Steve Smith to comment on the initiative before the report was issued, and he refused to do so.

    Relevant links:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *