Primary partners: Journal-World – 19,500 Daily, 19,7500 Sunday World Online

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Convergence Case Study

Primary partners:
Journal-World – 19,500 Daily, 19,7500 Sunday
World Online – ?? unique page views daily.
6News – news station serving the Lawrence cable system. (Nielsen DMA 31, Kansas City market)

Secondary partnerships
Being established with other newspapers, television stations and radio stations through affiliation agreements primarily related to the World Company’s Internet operations.

World Company owns all three of the primary partners.

All three are housed together in a recently remodeled facility called The News Center, located in downtown Lawrence.

Driving forces behind partnerships
Dolph C. Simons Jr., president of The World Company and editor and publisher, Lawrence Journal-World; Dan Simons, director of New Ventures, World Company; Ralph Gage, general manager, World Company; Rob Curley, general manager, World Online.

Making it happen
Richard Brack, managing editor, Journal-World; Ann Gardner, editorial page editor and multi-media managing editor, Journal-World; Cody Howard, news director, 6News; David Toplikar, editor, World Online; Rob Curley, general manager, World Online.

James Gentry

What they do

Journal-World reporters frequently do stand-ups in 6News shows, 6News video regularly augments World Online stories, 6News reporters write for the Journal-World; one reporter covers county government for both television and print; print reporters prepare special content for online sites. All combine for coverage of breaking news and for special projects.

World Online has a full-time news reporter who primarily writes breaking local news for the Web site, but many of his stories that are originally written for the Internet also appear in the print edition. This online reporter also mines the newspaper’s archives to augment new stories with related content. Print photographers shoot vastly expanded photo galleries each week for the company’s Web sites.

Print stories also are augmented on the Web with Flash animations, database content and other forms of interactivity that help the reader either better understand the story or even comment directly on the story.

Strategic focus
To be the community’s leading information source by using new technology and media to expand the company’s reach, frequency and demographic penetration.

Keys to making the partnership work

With the newspaper and television staffs on different computer systems, different deadlines and different schedules, getting word about story ideas, updates and coverage plans to all reporters and editors involved is a challenge. Print, TV and online editors meet once a day to discuss stories and plan coverage, and reporters from television and print discuss story ideas and coverage on a daily, even hourly, basis. The more the groups talk, the better the operation runs. New software for sharing news assignments and story budgets will be implemented later this year and should significantly improve communication. Story ideas and events from all reporters will be easily accessible for everyone on staff.


Whether it’s digital tape editing for TV, using the print computer system, or putting text on-line, all reporters have specialized duties. This does not change in a converged newsroom, but reporters must learn a basic understanding of the goals, needs and demands of the other media. Then reporters can begin developing some basic skills needed to produce stories for other media. A core group of reporters has emerged as responsible for educating and training others in their specific areas of expertise.

Editors and reporters must learn to put readers/viewers ahead of their own egos. The important thing should be that the story is getting to the public, not which reporter or medium learned the information and then made that story an “exclusive.”

It’s essential to get buy-in across the staff. Managers have to be sure everyone knows they’re on board, too. Supervisors and managers have to lead by example and give praise, recognition and extra compensation for those who participate in converged stories.

Print reporters have to get over the fear of standing in front of a camera and doing a talk-back. They also have to remember they can provide online with an audio tape from an interview, electronic documents or even links that help provide more information. If they’re absolutely afraid of going on the air, they can still participate by doing reporting for the TV station. And for online, print reporters can provide breaking news, extra stories or even do their own online-only column or blog.

TV reporters need to remember that they can convert their story into print, or provide a different angle for print that they couldn’t take with sound and video. They can also do online-only segments.

Online editors and producers have to be constantly aware of breaking news. They need to keep abreast of what reporters are working on to help come up with material to supplement online presentations. They have to let TV know and print know what extra items they will post with the story online — and that will have to be referred to in the print or TV story. Online editors and producers also have to go deep into certain recurring subjects, providing archives and useful information. They also need to remember they provide instant interactivity. People can vote in a poll on the subject, or make their comments on the message board — or even post their own photos, if they have them.

Photographers need to remember that if they have more photos than the newspaper can use, those photos can be turned into a slideshow gallery online. They need to be willing to spend some extra time to pick out photos and write cutlines for on-line use.

Videographers have to remember that if they have extra video of a speech that can’t make it into a TV package, they can edit it to run exclusively online. A key point is that photographers and videographers have to realize that the Web should not be seen as a dumping ground for their leftovers, but as an opportunity to provide more to the story. They need to spend just as much time putting together this extra Web content as they would spend in creating a quality piece for their primary medium.

Managers cite the success of projects that have been important in moving toward convergence.

  • The act of cooperatively planning and moving into a converged newsroom.

  • Creation of “Lawrence Is Growing,” a nearly year-long civic journalism project planned by the Journal-World, 6News and World Online, and including key elements in each outlet. The project included cross-promotion, and unique elements on TV, in print and online that complemented and teased to each other.

  • Convergence training that mainly has taken an organic form, bubbling up from the reporter level. Efforts to help staffers in all departments understand what those from other departments are doing.

  • Financial rewards for reporters and editors who make convergence efforts.

Routine converged activities

Reporters are paired in their beats in the newsroom. For example, the city reporters from print and television sit adjacent to one another, as do police reporters, and others. These reporters frequently split their coverage duties and then exchange information, with all stories appearing in both media.

Photographers (and others with a close ear to the police scanner at all times) keep everyone informed on possible breaking news.

Several television reporters frequently write stories for print. They might be story ideas generated by the television reporter, or events the newspaper is unable to staff. A few print reporters have learned how to edit and produce stories for television. Most other print reporters routinely provide information for television, which is then pared down into a story for TV.

Reporters provide daily standups on television newscasts to tease to stories in coming days’ newspapers.

Editors have daily meetings to plan convergence activities, share stories and ideas, and determine assignments.

Print staffers routinely provide additional content for online presentation, including courtroom and government documents, additional photographs for photo galleries, links to related Web sites, etc.

Print reporters prepare and deliver news stories on the television newscast either as a complete story or a “talkback,” or provide information to television staffers for presentation from the anchor desk.

Television reporters prepare news stories, briefs and columns for publication in the print product and online. Print reporters do phone interviews from remote locations for broadcast on TV.

County government is covered by a single reporter providing print and television stories. To provide flexibility, reporters on other beats often split, or share, tasks to increase the amount of ground they can cover.

Each day’s lead story on the newspaper’s Web site is nearly always an example of daily convergence between the newspaper, television station and online news department.

Noteworthy examples

Scott Rothschild, Journal-World political reporter, is doing a “Truth Test” series about political advertising in statewide election contests. His stories run in the newspaper. He also often runs a short version on 6News, showing parts of a televised political commercial. Online carries both of the reports, plus the commercials and links to other stories in his package. The site also provides an opportunity for comment on a message board. [no accesible]

Mark Fagan, county reporter who does converged reporting, writes separate stories for 6News and for the J-W. He provides additional documents for use online.

Mike Belt, police reporter, calls the online editor from the field to dictate a breaking news story, then returns to the office to write a follow-up story later for online, then a final follow-up story that is more in-depth for print. [no accesible]

Scott McClurg, sports photographer, shoots the “Late Night with Roy Williams” basketball scrimmage for the newspaper, then provides additional photos and cutlines for a photo gallery online. He also takes extra time to shoot photos that can be turned into 360-degree Quicktime VR shots for online.

Gary Bedore, assistant sports editor, writes an online-only Q & A column called Ask Gary, answering basketball questions from KU fans.

The company participated in polling for the August primary and will do it again for the November election. Results were released first on 6News at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., followed by the expanded report in the J-W the next morning. Both had reefers to each other, plus additional poll results on subsequent days. Online pointed to a section of election stories with a link to the secretary of state’s office for complete filings

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