Transparency in distributing news

Experimentation should be at the heart of a newsroom. Innovation springs from creativity and experimentation.

Indeed. As such, I’m taking lessons from the Register Citizen’s Open Newsroom project and incorporating them into my own work routine.

Transparency is a fundamental element of presenting news to readers and users. Moreso, however, the Open Newsroom project highlights the need for journalists to be transparent in their own approaches to their work. To that end, I began experimenting with my own “Open Newsroom” today in Lakewood, Ohio.

Ideally, I’d like to make this a weekly occurrence. While we’ve opened the channels and pushed for feedback from readers through social media, I think that in-person opportunities are equally – if not more – valuable.

For reporters who have found their eyes focused more on their smartphones than their City Council members’ contributions to local government, hitting the pavement in and around town is more important than ever.

I think that maintaining an open, forward-thinking online presence is such a great development for media people. But what employees at the Register Citizen have been doing in their community is a great practice that highlights an important lesson learned:

We understood learned that “Digital First” really means “Reader First,” or “Community First.”

Yes, “Digital First” has become the mantra of newspaper staffs around the world. But the sentiment goes deeper than that. Disrupt your workflow and keep the end user in mind. Is your online presence benefiting your community in any meaningful way (that is, does your “Digital First” strategy really improve upon what you were doing before the Internet changed everything?)

Experimentation should be at the heart of a newsroom. And there are many ways to innovate in meaningful, worthwhile ways.

Some of those experiments will work. Others will fail.

Get a feel for what readers and non-journalists want out of their online news experience.

I think that’s the best aspect of working within this new digital framework: It allows for such rich (or, in plenty of cases, not so rich) interaction with the people around you.

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