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Newsrooms need to shift focus outward

February 20, 2012

By Kayla Pickrell
University of Kentucky

The newsroom has lost sight of the readers and focuses purely on itself.

Paul McAuliffe, of the Evansville Courier & Press, and Gary Dotson, of the Belleville News-Democrat, highlighted the challenges and how to combat them through planning, finding priorities and social media.

“We need to plan, plan, plan and then plan some more,” McAuliffe said. “If we are not planning, then we don’t have the manpower for a newsroom.”

McAuliffe pointed out that the most important decision to make is to not dwell on the past.

The newsroom will never be the same as it was years ago.

“We’re sort of feeling sorry for ourselves,” McAuliffe said. “The more time we spend on ourselves, the less time we spend on the readers.”

Newspapers are caught in the fact that there are less than half of the reporters in a newsroom than when newspapers were booming, McAuliffe said.

The step to progressing is focusing the attention away from that fact and the “grieving” to turning it towards the readers.

How to grab the attention of the readers and focus on them relies heavily on new media.

Video, social networking, blogs and live chats are only the beginning of the connection from the writer to the reader.

“I have a love/hate relationship with new media, as most of you do too,” McAuliffe said, addressing the older journalists.

It is the job of the young journalists to take hold of the opportunity and seek out the older journalists to help, McAuliffe said.

“I see a lot of young faces here, and I’m glad to see that. You don’t come with the baggage that those of us that were there from the fat days of the media bring with us,” McAuliffe said. “It’s unfortunate that that shows up in our decision making process.”

One of the major steps to changing the decision-making process is to figure out the priorities and executing those priorities, according to McAuliffe.

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