News organizations would be wise to integrate their online journalists into the main newsroom.
This column appeared in the May 1998 issue of The American Journalism Review.
By J.D. Lasica
Walk into the newsroom of almost any newspaper with a Web site and here’s what you won’t see: Web journalists. That’s because the online operation has been ghettoized — shunted off into a farflung no man’s land.
“What does that tell you psychologically about how the newspaper bigwigs view the Web operation?” says Howard Witt, The Chicago Tribune’s associate managing editor for interactive news.
But a handful of papers are doing it right, and the trend clearly lies in the direction of a multimedia newsroom. The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Kansas City Star and Detroit Free Press all have integrated newsrooms where Web and print journalists work side by side. The Orlando Sentinel established a multimedia desk in the newsroom in January, and the Chicago Tribune moved its Web producers one floor down into the newsroom in March.
“I’m stunned, really, at how few papers do this,” says Kurt Greenbaum, who until recently served as editor of the Sun-Sentinel’s Internet Edition, which launched in October 1996.