A Matter of Space: Designing newsrooms for new digital practice
Over the past decade, technology has driven unprecedented change in news audiences and news organizations. News organizations have experimented with business models, integrated new technologies, adopted digital platforms and established digital-first workflows.
Yet in too many newsrooms, the physical spaces are stuck in the late 20th century.
Now some newsroom leaders are redesigning their workplaces to better support the behaviors, workflows and attitudes required in an adaptive, modern media company.
When The Virginian-Pilot undertook a sweeping organizational transition to digital-first publishing in 2016, editors led an in-house redecorating effort. Vibrant paint and a newsroom-wide decluttering were just part of the DIY effort. It helped re-energize the space and expresses an “out with the old, in with the new” philosophy.
Consider also Atlantic Media Group’s Quartz, which has been acclaimed for rethinking the modern newsroom. The digital-only, mobile-centric news organization developed a unique culture as its team grew, without any baggage from a legacy past. Its newly redesigned workplace reflects the personality of a successful, wildly innovative newsroom.
And at The Dallas Morning News, Robyn Tomlin and other leaders knew their new home in the former Dallas Public Library building would have to convey that the staff is part of a digital newsroom.
“Space and behavior,” Tomlin said, “go hand in hand.”
This paper, part of the American Press Institute’s series of Strategy Studies, is based on some 20 interviews with newsroom leaders and staff, site visits, and reviews of research from leading architectural firms.
It describes how a workplace redesign can express the unique culture and personality of a news organization. It tells the stories of news outlets great and small. And it includes a range of no-cost, low-cost and aspirational designs, with ideas about how to adapt your newsroom when faced with limited time and resources.
Whether you are solving logistical challenges, downsizing, overcoming space limitations or trying to to encourage new ways of practicing journalism, this research suggests space renovation is a valuable exercise in identifying your organization’s core culture and personality. Not only can renovation make your space more efficient and support new workflows, it can encourage collaborative behaviors and help raise employee morale.
Space renovation is a valuable exercise in identifying your organization’s core culture and personality.”