Cheerleading at the L.A. Times

Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton welcomed the staff back from Labor Day with encouragement to do good work — and plans to reorganize where people sit. His email this morning:

From: Stanton, Russ
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 9:08 AM
Subject: Welcome back, let's roll ...

As we head back to work after the three-day weekend, I want to offer my sincere thanks to everyone for continuing to give our readers great journalism throughout a very trying summer. This staff continues to demonstrate on a daily basis why the Los Angeles Times remains one of the finest news organizations in the world. In recent weeks, we've produced first-rate coverage of an earthquake, the state budget fiasco, trouble at the local chapter of the Service Employees union, the Beijing Olympics, the Democratic National Convention, the vice presidential selections, the economy, the drug wars in Mexico and Russia's attack on Georgia, to name but a few shining examples.

With our new publisher quickly getting a feel for the place and leading the charge on the key issues involving the company, you'll be seeing more of me in the newsroom, urging you to produce more great journalism. As you know, that journalism is evolving, and the next phase of that evolution continues with the integration of our web and print operations. Over the past 18 months, our newsrooms -- web and print, news and features -- have worked together to power a significant transformation of our daily report. More readers are better served than ever. It hasn't always been easy; web journalism is more than print journalism filed early. And what works on the web doesn't always translate well in print. We have learned from each other as we try to figure out what works best where, and for whom.

Now, we're ready to take the next big step....

Over the next few weeks, we will complete the first fundamental reorganization of our newsroom in decades. We will move the web newsroom from its 5th-floor spot and start dissolving some of the distinctions between the 2nd and 3rd floors. Rather than three newsrooms on three floors, we will be one newsroom on two floors. This is about creating something new, an organization that values and encourages what works in different media and for different audiences.

The biggest, most visible change will be moving the home page operation to the corner of 1st and Spring outside my office. It will be adjacent to our A1 operation, giving us a 24-hour hub for both print and web. The National desk will move to the space between Foreign and Business, giving those three desks easy access to each other. And we'll be mixing up the seating on the 2nd and 3rd floors to further break down the differences between News and Features, in part by forming three new coverage teams based on topics rather than print sections.

The whole process should take about six weeks and I very much appreciate your patience as we rearrange the floor plans. We will give you more information later this month on the grand plan for the merged newsrooms. Until then, let me share an example of what we're trying to achieve with a group that has already moved into the Library space on the 2nd floor.

For the first time, we have project reporters, multimedia reporters, graphics reporters, artists, interactive artists, data miners, Flash designers and a few people whose skills transcend categorization working together in a new kind of newsroom hub. Les Dunseith’s graphics team is sharing space with Doug Smith’s data group. They are joined by Eric Ulken’s interactive data squad and Stephanie Ferrell’s Flash team. Add five or six project reporters and you’ve got the beginnings of a dynamic team.

This continues the drive we began 18 months ago to create a newsroom that thinks, operates and is organized outside the confines of traditional print sections. John, Davan, Meredith and I begin the first of our weekly lunches today with various staff members (be on the lookout for an invite from Ms. Goodman) to expand this discussion.

We've got an exciting autumn ahead with what is arguably the most fascinating presidential campaign in history and we have a host of other great stories and projects in the works. In the meantime, please feel free to call, message, drop by or stop me in the hall to talk about how we keep our journalism strong as we push further into new territory.

Russ Stanton
Los Angeles Times

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