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Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

Project Unbolt: A manual for freeing digital newsrooms

The goal of Digital First Media’s Project Unbolt was to develop a step-by-step plan to accelerate the digital transition of newsrooms. Steve Buttry, who left the project last month, has brought together his recommendations on how newsrooms can unbolt from the processes and culture of print, and presented them online as a manual for other newsrooms to follow.

Each section has a collection of posts on the steps publishers need to take to transform their newsrooms into effective digital news gathering and publishing operations, organised in the following way:

The unbolted newsroom: Several posts giving an overview of unbolting issues.

Getting your newsroom started: Carrying out a newsroom assessment to help set priorities.

Cover events and breaking news live: “Live coverage provides depth, immediacy and interactivity for the digital audience. You should always cover breaking stories as they unfold.”

Unbolt enterprise from the Sunday story: Instead of planning enterprise stories (articles that explain the forces shaping events, rather than simple reporting of those events) for the Sunday newspaper, plan them to appear first on digital platforms at the best time to reachReach1) unique users that visited the site over the course of the reporting period,…

Cover routine daily news as it unfolds: Change the daily routine so reporters produce content throughout the day, not in the evening for the next morning’s newspaper.

Focus on mobile success: Prioritise mobile.

Newsroom meetings: “Daily planning meetings need to focus on digital platforms, rather than the next morning’s newspaper.”

Leading the unbolted newsroom: Include data and interactive specialists in story-planning, hire staff with digital skills, get the right CMSCMS (Content Management System)Software tools or web services for creating and amending website content.…

Editing: There should be fewer editors but more journalists who can edit their own work.

Measuring success: It’s challenging, but there will be a mix of subjective ratings and measurable metrics.

How the Berkshire Eagle is unbolting: A case study of one ‘unbolting Master Plan’.

Working Digital First: Posts on other issues to consider.

Article by Peter Whitehead

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