June 27, 2007, on this blog: New media
Newspapers now have a two-platform publishing structure: print and online. Yet newspapers still only have a one-platform editing structure: print. Some few newspapers have responded to this problem by beginning to create an editorial system for their online content that parallels the system in place for their print content. That might be better than nothing but, in an era of ever-shrinking newsrooms, this seems likely to result in an already overworked and nearly overwhelmed copy desk being divided into two, smaller, thoroughly overwhelmed copy desks. I don’t think that is where the future lies.
The future, I think, requires a larger but more nimble cross-platform copy desk — an editorial structure and infrastructure not strictly tied to any single platform. All content — stories, columns, photos, weather and wire service items — would flow through it and be edited for accuracy, style, grammar and spelling, emphasis, relevance, etc., so that it was ready for public consumption in whatever platform is available, whether that be print, online, multimedia, town crier or interpretive dance. Some editing would still be required at the point of publication as the otherwise-ready-to-go content is shaped to fit the form and space of the various platforms, and I’m sure it will take quite a bit of experimentation to figure out how to balance that work with the cross-platform work. But I also think it’s well past time newspapers began experimenting along those lines.