Already in the midst of replacing last year's buyout class with younger reporters and editors, the Los Angeles Times is also going to reorganize the newsroom into the hub model that is gaining popularity. It will be a further and quite possibly final break from the old model in which news coverage was launched by the editors on various desks — the city desk, national, foreign and others — and moved toward preparing stories by the end of the day for the next day's newspaper, while feeding the web. The nerve center of the Los Angeles Times newsroom will now be the "news and enterprise hub," where editors from cross the paper will work with writers, visual journalists artists, social media feeders and others to cover the top stories of the day for the web. There will also now be a separate centralized desk that puts its collective mind toward the next day's printed paper, headed by the LAT's design editor.
Traditional mainstream news outlets are trying various models of following their readers to the web, and grappling with how to reorient the news staff to think web first and 24/7. The news hub idea formalizes this for the LA Times. The disclosure last week that all of Tribune's newspapers combined have less than 90,000 digital-only subscribers certainly gave a push to do something. The Times has been favoring online for awhile now, as anyone who still gets the printed paper knows. Early deadlines and a shrinking news hole mean the print paper has fewer stories and many tend to run days after you had the chance to read them online, but on the other hand, the front pages have tended to be anchored by large, often-attractive visual packages. It looks as if the Column One feature that played such a big role in establishing the Times as a home for narrative-style journalism over the decades is history.
Here's the memo on the news hub last week from Editor Davan Maharaj.
From: Maharaj, Davan
Sent: Monday, February 08, 2016 2:41 PM
Subject: News and Enterprise Hub
On the day of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, reporters and editors from different disciplines converged on the center of the newsroom.
Conversation buzzed constantly about the story as it was happening -- about how to deploy resources, about multimedia elements and social media plans, about big enterprise we wanted to do.
It was a model of how a modern newsroom should work. And it all happened spontaneously.
Now, we are establishing a news and enterprise hub to bring the same collaborative smarts and energy to our coverage every day. The hub will be a nerve center where assigning editors, photo editors, social media specialists, data visualizers and practitioners of the other newsroom crafts will identify the important stories of the day and figure out how to best report, write, edit, present and promote them. The news hub will advance our mission to bring our news and enterprise stories to the largest possible audience.
Working closely with me, Deputy Managing Editor Megan Garvey, will oversee the hub. Other senior editors will be asked to help run it from time to time. Top editors from each department will be expected to work at the hub, at least for part of each day, to help shape coverage.
Among those working alongside Megan will be Deputy Managing Editor Scott Kraft, who will shepherd and polish the top stories of the day for http://latimes.com and for print.
As part of this next step in the newsroom’s evolution, we are creating a print news desk, headed by Assistant Managing Editor Michael Whitley, that will produce a print report with the most complete versions of the stories we worked on together during the day. Michael and his team, in consultation with senior editors, will make many of the decisions on play and presentation that now consume much of our collective energy.
Michael has superb news judgment as well as great design sensibility, and he works collaboratively with every department, making him an ideal choice for this important job.
Freeing desks from having to think about and spend time producing the print paper will enable editors and reporters to devote more energy to what makes the Los Angeles Times great – timely, compelling and engaging content of all types.
We are planning to launch the hub in two weeks.
We’re excited about these next steps. We know you will have questions about the details, along with ideas of your own. We look forward to hearing from you and working together closely to make this happen.
Here was some foreshadowing by Maharaj in December. On the hiring front, I posted previously about the recent additions to the politics desk. the naming of a new books editor, and the hiring of a new reporter for the Dodgers beat. More recently, the Times also picked up Pedro Moura from the OC Register for the Angels beat. On the other side of the equation, the Times just recently dropped its blogs (and bloggers) on the Dodgers, Lakers, USC and the Clippers.