The painful transformation

Through the fascinating and challenging process of linking the printed platform with the digital, there are plenty of sections of a newsroom that must be either readjusted or discarded so that they comply with the new modalities of the professional journalism within the current social communications scheme.

In the traditional model, the sections of a newspaper were directed by editors and sub-editors with their corresponding teams of redaction and photography, subject to senior management positions.

To some extent, an archipelago of areas was formed, through which the contents were planned and decided in the first instance, not always betting on a general thematic, and managing themselves with independence, although they revolved around the axis of the newsrooms.

With the growing trend of digital editions, a lot of newspapers have linked their printed platform with a digital counterpart to maintain their stability and to survive to the rising wave of digital audiences, but at the same time to obtain higher ad revenues and paid subscriptions in these new lands, thus promoting the reinvention of the old standards.

Enter the scene new players, those young journalists trained specially for the digital era, more focused on the use and development of recent technologies, including modern software for editing audio and video formats, and the management of the applications of smartphones, as well as other young adults specialized in programming, digital designs and audience management or data analysts.

These new pieces are linked to the existing ones and try to synchronize with the search and dissemination of information and news content, but under another scheme that leans more towards the umbrella of new formats and topics adjusted to the characteristics and tastes of the readers of this generation.

Since the time spent reading is now a lot shorter, digital platforms are very careful when preparing their menus based on these characteristics of today’s audiences, while the printed platforms, in turn, abandon the long texts to satisfy the desires of reading conciseness and incorporate more photos, images, computer graphics, comparative tables, and other attachments that complement the news, making it easier to handle and faster to consume.

These processes have not been free from setbacks, traumas or discouragements. For the Dallas Morning News, from Texas, this process of massive transformation from a printed model to a digital one caused a lot of struggle throughout two years, because they had to get rid of many of the staff members who didn’t feel passionate about this or that didn’t prove capable of adopting the new model.

The Dallas changed its workflows and added new technologies, changed the original roles of its teams and sections and revised the competencies and skills of all the staff personnel to determine who were good enough to adapt to the transformations and how to play the smartest on the board of the change game.

They created new positions and dismissed others, always thinking about the digital platform first, trying to connect with emerging audiences and know which kinds of contents to share between one platform and another.

Every transition, like this one, involves reinvention and replacements. The management of the Dallas Morning News understood that, although painful, the dismissal and replacements of those who did not identify with such big disruption and transformation, were the price to pay to ensure the survival of this iconic and important newspapers of the United States.

– Translated from Spanish by Randy Rodriguez.