Sunday, May 06, 2012

How A Newsroom Operates...

By Pat Kelley

The newsroom hierarchy is the manner in which a news-gathering operation is organized. The complexity of the hierarchy changes with the size of the news entity. A very small media set up might have a hierarchy of just two people, an editor and a reporter. A very large organization might have several layers of editors and reporters.

In a newspaper office, at the top of the organizational chart stands the editor. The editor is tasked with setting editorial policy and overseeing the newsroom budget.

In many cases, the editor is a member of the editorial board. Below the editor stands the managing editor, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the newsroom.

A managing editor ensures that deadlines are met and often decides, in consultation with other members of management, which stories go on the front page.

Several editors may report to the managing editor, including the chief of the copy desk, the chief of the design desk, and section editors, such as the business editor, features editor, sports editor and photo editor.

Each section editor may have a deputy or assistant editor. Below the section editors stand the reporters. Photographers report to the photo editor. Designers, who organize the physical layout of words, headlines and pictures, report to the design chief. Reporters report to the section editors or their deputy. Members of the copy desk read stories to ensure grammar, accuracy and taste. They also write headlines.

Television newsrooms differ slightly in their organizational chart. At the top, it is the news director, whose job most closely resembles that of the managing editor in a newspaper in that it manages the day-to-day operations.

In some cases, a well-known anchor may outrank the news director and may exercise significant judgment over presentation of the news broadcast.

The newsroom manager may have an assistant. Reporting to the news director are an anchor or executive producer, who manage production of content and provide guidance for the development of stories.

Producers book satellite feeds and manage the timing of the show. They report to an executive producer or anchor.

Assignment editors, who may also report to the anchor or executive producers, assign stories to reporters based on tips, items on the newswires and competitors' broadcasts.

Reporters generally report to producers.

In addition to reporters, there are video editors and photographers.

One recent trend, enabled by smaller cameras and more reliable mobile technology, is the development of the backpack reporter, who shoots, edits and writes his or her own stories.

In the web, the role of Internet operations differs from newsroom to newsroom, reflecting, perhaps, the newness of Internet operations. In some cases, Internet operations are completely set apart from the newsroom. They have access to news content, but little say in its development.

In other operations, Internet operations are closely intertwined with the newsroom and may have a role in selection and allocation of resources.

Web staffers may report to the managing editor or editor in the newspaper. In TV newsrooms, the Web staff may report to the news director.

In some news operations, the Internet staff is a completely separate business unit.

In newspapers, the editor reports to the publisher, who oversees the business operations of the newspaper. The publisher usually has a say in the development of opinion-based editorials, but is not considered a member of the newsroom. Similarly, the ad director at both types of news organizations is not a member of the newsroom.

In response to intense pressure from the Internet, some newsrooms have reformatted their hierarchy. In some cases, this is done to reduce the number of layers of management.

(Author is Philadelphia-based freelance Writer)

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