Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Reporting Teams Seek New Creativity

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Reporting Teams Seek New Creativity

Article excerpt

In the belief that staffers are too territorial, the Bakersfield Californian has shaken up its newsroom, merging general assignment reporters with specialists into one pool for all kinds of coverage.

"The objective is to foster a newsroom without walls in which creativity is encouraged by having ideas flow from department to department," said executive editor Richard Beene.

"We're asking our editors and reporters to broaden their view of the community and chase good stories regardless of where they come from."

Structurally, the change means that staff writers in the local, business and features departments will operate as a single unit. It is designed to allow greater flexibility and efficiency and a blending of resources.

Beene pointed out, however, that no beats are being eliminated and that the system of section editors remains.

"People from the business department and the metro section were not talking to each other," he said." Reporters from different departments hadn't said two words to each other in a year.'

Beene believes that more balanced stories with better background will emerge as reporters exchange knowledge and contribute to stories. As an example, he said, a sportswriter covering the state university in Bakersfield could inform the education reporter of an athlete who is getting special tutoring to preserve his eligibility.

"This can become an education story," said Beene. "How much is it costing the public to tutor athletes, and what does it do to the university budget? …

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