Journalists working across all Trinity Mirror’s regional papers are bracing themselves for the introduction of a new working model called “Newsroom 3.0”.
The new model was originally trialled in the publisher’s North Wales newsroom but is now being rolled out across Trinity’s 130-plus local newspaper portfolio.
Journalists have been told to prepare for a number of changes in how they work including a possible change in shift patterns and earlier start times to cover breaking news ahead of the morning commute.
A new “streamlined” production workflow will be implemented aimed at “minimising the number of touches from origination to publishing” in print and online.
In print this translates into a “high degree of page templating” and journalists “writing-to-fit” straight on to the page, a system already in use at some other regional newspaper publishers.
And Trinity is to introduce a set of five templates that will be used across its entire regional portfolio.
Newsroom 3.0 will also see the creation of several new positions including the post of ‘multimedia desk editor’ being replaced by ‘story editor’, who will be responsible for looking after the same story in both its print and digital forms.
They will work under the direction of a senior story editor or executive editor and will be responsible for both content management and production.
Working with the story editor will be multimedia journalists (or MMJs) who will write articles directly onto the page and will also write headlines for online and print (except for page leads).
Another new management role is that of ‘community editor’, who will manage a team of non-journalist ‘community-content curators’. They are also responsible for managing all community content under the “Community Direct” banner.
These non-journalist community content curators will be given training to “manage copy from submission all the way through to the page”, when it will be checked by journalists before publication.
Trinity said the North Wales trial had proved “very successful” in driving web traffic and the volume of content created by journalists.
“A further benefit of the increased volume of web content is that a proportion of this can be fed back into print, for use as supporting stories,” staff were told.
“This had enabled MMJs in North Wales to concentrate on enhancing the key stories that are likely to drive newspaper sales.
“We now plan to roll out this approach to all of our newsrooms.”
The National Union of Journalists has raised “deep concerns” over Newsroom 3.0 and called on
Trinity to release details of the trial, after some members in North Wales were said to “sceptical” of its chances of success.
In a letter to HR director Lesley Summerville, the NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said that union reps “wish to know what were the impacts on other areas of the business such as print and how that manifested itself in both the length and intensity of working for all editorial staff”.
He said: “Most important of all would be what benefits there were for the company’s revenues? This is crucial if the company is to win the confidence of members in a roll out of Newsroom 3.0 given the investment of significant newsroom resource.”
Trinity said it will respond privately to the NUJ’s concerns.