Friday, 4 July 2008

The voice of experience

This posting from a journalist working on the US Spokesman newspaper, Nick Easton, has really struck a chord with me.

His project is to reinvent the way his newsroom works, starting from a blank sheet of paper - a daunting project.

And similar to one which a small group of us have been given on the paper I work - to find a way to make our paper the trailblazer in how to develop our online offering for the company.

Although we haven't been given the remit of tearing everything up and starting again, the huge difference in mindset between online and print means we are frequently coming close to that - which as you can imagine has led to what the editor likes to call "creative tensions", where what he really means are barnstorming rows - inevitable when everyone is passionate about what we do.

But what really interested me about Nick Easton's post was his emphasis on the youth of the team tasked to do this at the Spokesman.

Does youth mean being more receptive to change? I'm not sure - the member of our working group most resistant to change is also the youngest. And conversely, some of the most enthusiastic noises from our reporting team have been coming from the older generation - especially when they see the benefits of publishing their stories online can bring.

So I'm not convinced you should write off the experience of the fathers and mothers of the newsroom. After all, they've seen plenty enough changes in the industry to have learnt to roll with the punches so far. And I'm far more willing to listen to voices of caution when they've the experience to back them up.

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