Aiming to tear down the walls between print and digital journalism, The New York Times is embarking on an ambitious plan to merge its print and online newsroom operations.
The integration project will be led by Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor of the Times.
“The objective is to get an entire newsgathering operation focused on all the forms in which journalism can be delivered instead of having the Web site in a separate world,” Landman said.
Currently, the Times has a worldwide editorial staff of more than 1,200 and an online staff of between 40 and 50, he said.
“At the moment, the news is gathered in one place and distributed by the Web in another,” Landman said.
For example, Times reporters and photographers covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina now report to the business desk at the Times newsroom on 43rd St. in New York, which makes editorial decisions about articles, photos and layouts for the print version of the paper.
“In another office five blocks away is another group of people, not really involved in assigning stories, who are thinking up ways to put the information on the Web,” Landman said.
Under the new system there will be more integration, with both sides taking more responsibility for print and online coverage.
For example, Web producers will have more participation in daily editorial conversations; senior Web editors will be present at all editorial meetings, and senior news editors will take on more responsibility for Web coverage.
Over the next few weeks, Landman and editorial staff will conduct meetings and individual interviews with staffers to discuss details of the transition.
Already, the Times has built some bridges between print and online. In 2000, it launched a continuous news desk, which provides print and online coverage, and it involves online editors in major editorial meetings.
“There are lots of bridges that cross this divide,” Landman said. “The point is to eliminate this divide.”