Newsroom culture of excellence, foundational document No. 8: Changing the course of the copy desk

Click to see full graphic.

It’s time to change and expand the roles of one of the most traditional areas of the newsroom — the copy desk.

These are the folks who, traditionally, put the finishing touches on the nearly-finished work of others — reporters, photographers, wire services, etc. Copy editors design newspaper pages, write headlines, offer the final read on stories and proof the pages before they go to press.

But in this new environment, that is too narrow a focus.

The graphic above shows how the York Daily Record is charting a new course for this group of journalists. The terms “copy editor” and “copy desk” seem too limiting for their new roles. We see these as multi-platform journalists working on the Night News & Digital Desk.

The horizontal bar reflects the traditional work that is still needed. This team takes in work that was created by others and produces what gets into the hands of readers.

The vertical streams reflect the new work that we have folded in on this desk.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves in the coming months. So many new platforms are coming available. We must make deliberate decisions about the best way to share information with and from readers.

One important unique value we can offer is an information source that is better than a one-size-fits-all approach.

See the Foundational Documents page for other posts in this series.


About Randy Parker

Managing Editor, York Daily Record/Sunday News and
This entry was posted in Behind the scenes, Copy desk, Digital first, Foundational documents, Journalism Jargon, Social media and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Newsroom culture of excellence, foundational document No. 8: Changing the course of the copy desk

  1. RJK says:

    Randy, isn’t it possible you guys are over-thinking all this? Flow charts? Reporting is reporting. Don’t turn it into journalism by memo.

  2. Randy Parker says:

    Ha! Yes, that certainly is possible, RJK. In many cases, these are simply internal tools that we use to communicate these ideas to each other. I will say, though, that some of these documents last a long, long time and have worked wonders in helping us to build a culture in this newsroom that is unlike any I’m aware of.
    But you are right to indicate that journalism is not something that can be reduced to a flow chart. There are passions at work here. Commitments that cannot be constrained by the pod walls of a quiet office.
    These charts just help us steer some of those passions in the most effective ways possible.

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