The skills that leaders need in a modern, tech-driven newsroom

Broadcasters and publishers experiment with Mastodon and Threads as Twitter/X chaos continues

I’ll start off this week with a good piece from my friends at WAN-IFRA on what it takes to be an editor in a modern, technology-driven newsroom. The piece is consistent with my own experience in that you need to be a generalist but build a team of specialists. It is a very product-y approach. Product in journalism scholar Damon Kiesow says, you have a T-shaped skillset - a deep skill in one area of expertise but then a broad and shallower expertise across the range of skills needed in a technology-filled newsroom. No one can be an expert in all of the areas that comprise the work environment. However, it is a tension in product management and newsroom management that you have to have some literacy in all of the areas that you manage. It’s a fine balance.

Download this now: A free e-book on project management in newsrooms

Project management is one skill set that I have really grown to appreciate since joining Pugpig and making the shift from being a technically-minded, product-thinker in editorial organisations to a consultant for a software company that builds apps and websites for publishers. Robin Kwong, who has a great reputation due to his important work at the FT and Wall Street Journal, has just released a free e-book about project management in newsrooms. It’s a really useful resource, and I have to say that if you want to learn the secret of delivering innovation, it is really down to becoming proficient at project management.

Grounded in research from Google on what makes effective teams, Samantha Ragland with the American Press Institute looks at the importance of psychological safety. In this context, psychological safety is defined as “a shared belief held by team members that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” It is a key ingredient for innovation, and this is a good read on creating a strong, supportive culture that helps people to be their best and builds great teams.

Today’s AI Round-up: Developments and news from Sweden, Australia and India

The AI headlines in publishing keep rolling in, and I’ll just briefly summarise them.

Publishers and broadcasters respond to the changes in social media

As I have highlighted several times in the newsletter, the social media landscape is changing, and media is in an experimental phase as the strategies and platforms that had severed them so well over the past 15 years shift radically.

First off, The Guardian has a good overview of what Elon Musk’s overarching ambition is with X. It isn’t surprising that Musk with his history with PayPal would want to bring payments to X, but his broader ambition is to copy the uber apps in China such as WeChat that do much more than allow users to post micro-updates.

With Musk creating a lot of needless drama at Twitter, journalists and the organisations that they work for are experimenting with other platforms. The BBC announcing a six month trial on Mastodon is the biggest such experiment with the federated social service that I have seen. I will be really interested to see what comes of it, especially because the BBC tends to be very public and open with the results of its experiments.

And while I’ve highlighted the rapid user growth and stagnation that has happened with Threads, enetertainment and lifestyle publishers are experimenting with it, which makes sense seeing at Meta has been quite open that it doesn’t see this as a service catering to news. Whether that means that they are hostile to news on the platform or simply want to position it for a broader audience has yet to be seen. With Threads being so tightly connected to Instagram, I’m not suprised that entertainment and lifestyle publishers are dipping their toes into that pool. It seems a good git.

I’ll close out with a few other bits. Having done a lot of data journalism over the years, I try to keep on toip of the latest and greatest. A few examples are examplars of traditional news graphics being translated into the interactive space, but it’s a good round up nonetheless.

And we start to see what Vice will focus on in the future. Instead of publisher, it looks like it will be more of a production studio. It makes much more sense than what it was doing. We’ll see if they can leverage the brand.