A new kind of newsroom?

By Katy Mersmann

Creative Commons photo by Brian Indrelunas
A few weeks ago, I came upon an article by Nieman Lab breaking down a Pew Research Center study that suggests that Americans get their news from specific outlets based, at least in part, on their political preferences. In many ways, it seemed like a no-brainer. People like to have their own opinions confirmed and it's only natural that audiences would focus on news they perceive as being reported in a way that supports their beliefs.

However, it does raise some interesting questions about news competition. If audiences are set in their news outlet choices, it takes away some of the fierce competition typically associated with news reporting. If news outlets don't have to fight so hard to "get it first," they can give themselves a little more time to "get it right."

That's why I was so excited to read about an election night experiment in Philadelphia, where reporters from a number of different online news outlets got together to report from a single, collaborative "pop-up newsroom." The newsroom was organized by Billy Penn, a mobile news Philadelphia news site and featured two election-night newsroom staples: pizza and stalking social media for election result updates.

Billy Penn's interview, Chris Krewson, said the atmosphere at the pop-up newsroom was collaborative, rather than competitive, and that reporters actually pointed out social media updates to each other, rather than trying to edge one another out.

As a convergence journalism major, I find myself slipping between different newsrooms more than most reporters, and I'm personally really excited by the idea of inter-newsroom collaboration. Rather than emphasizing more traditional news reporting, valuing secrecy and speed, the pop-up newsroom provides a place where reporters can focus on accuracy and making news interesting to audiences.

I'm looking forward to seeing if this idea of pop-up newsrooms will catch on and maybe give news outlets a way to reach their audiences with better, stronger journalism.

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