Two general types
- Those that are distribution platforms for content, but do not create the content themselves – Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit
- Sites and organizations that create at least some of their own editorial content –news Web sites, blogs, etc
Structure of such an organization depends on:
- Mission of site
- Size of site
- Size of staff
Typically, an online newsroom has this structure:
- Publisher or president/CEO
- Editor/VP of content
- VP of Marketing
- VP of Strategy or Biz Development
- VP of Finance
- VP of Technology
Under the Editor/VP of content:
- Content editors/by department or area of expertise (Newsgathering)
- Copy editors
- Multimedia producers/editors
- Technology director/newsroom
- Graphic designers
Multiplatform or Projects editor
Community or Social Media editor
VP of content: Responsible for managing the online newsroom staff, and directing the Web site. Helps create goals and sets objectives for the site and staff. Pays attention to the “metrics” of the audience, and has a good handle on the site’s analytics and performance on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.
Creative director: Responsible for overall look, feel and design of the Web site. Works often with the CSS (cascading style sheets) and designers and technology editor to tweak elements of a site’s style. This is the person who dreams up interesting new ways to present content both on a daily basis and in large-scale newsroom and multimedia projects. This person also works closely with the multiplatform and multimedia editors on such projects that involve several members of the staff.
Managing/Online editor: Responsible for all content on site, and running of the day to day operations of the Web site. In smaller organizations, this person often also is responsible for the Home Page of the site, although in bigger organizations there typically is a separate home page editor.
Home Page Editor: Responsible for creating content for the home page of the site and updating it throughout the news cycle or day, depending on the site’s mission and philosophy. This is a huge responsibility and is often a position filled by someone who has the ability to see both the big picture and attend to detail. This position entails writing strong, user-friendly and search-optimized headlines, understanding the rest of the site, creating links and recognizing multimedia opportunities. This person often needs to interact with the rest of the content editors to understand what is best played on the home page, and also must be aware of what is happening on the wires. This editor must be fast and accurate. It is one of the most critical positions in an online newsroom.
Content editors: These editors are responsible for newgathering and aggregation of content. They typically supervise reporters, but also oversee copy editors and are well versed in how best to present content (many pieces vs. one story; uploaded documents; timelines; lists or links) as well as what makes a good headline and summary. These editors work with copy editors, producers and multimedia reporters and editors as well. A typical content editor might be in charge of the sports content of a Web site. This person might determine what stories, blogs, databases and other content would fill the sports area of the site, and would work with reporters, copy editors and photographers to ensure the pieces are all there.
Reporters: Reporters for multimedia organizations often have more than one capability. They may specialize in one area – writing, for example – but often augment those capabilities with others such as writing a blog, taking photos, shooting video, gathering audio. Rarely do reporters for an online organization just do one thing. The most successful of them recognize and understand there are many ways to tell as story, and their final product is a result of reporting and analyzing the results to best determine how best to present the material online. This requires having a good grasp of all of the elements of telling a story, and the skills to report in several ways.
Online production editor: This is the person who runs the actual operation of the site. This editor usually supervises copy editors and producers, and works in conjunction with the home page editor and managing editor to process content that goes on the site. This position requires a strong understanding of the CMS (content managing system), headlines, summaries, links, uploading of multimedia content and placement of content in various areas of a Web site.
Copy editors: Copy editors are trained in style, grammar and content editing. In an online newsroom, copy editors also must be aware of search engine optimization, and use keywords and headline writing targeted for the Web. Often, copy editors must write more than one headline for a story, and sometimes several. One might be for the site, another for a mobile version and another for the home page. Copy editors also often write the summaries that appear on the home page or section pages of a Web site, keeping in mind that these summaries “sell” the story to the reader and are not just duplications of the top of a story. Sometimes, copy editors must work on several versions of an updating story, keeping in mind that readers must have enough of the story to understand what is going on – even if it’s developing. Updating stories as they occur is an art that requires speed, accuracy and an understanding of story organization.
Producers: Site producers are the “technicians” for the site, trained in HTML and the content management system. They are fast and efficient at what they do. Often for news Web sites, producers work on “rollover” – which usually is a late-night shift. Sites roll over for the next day early in the morning – when there are the fewest users online. Producers process the stories, images and content for a site so that the site has a new look and feel for each day. More and more, sites have a continuous rollover that allows for producing and posting throughout a 24-hour cycle. But there still usually is a time when the bulk of the content for a site changes, and a process for ensuring it happens smoothly.
Designers: Site designers maintain the look of the site across platforms and browsers. They often know a variety of more sophisticated programs such as Flash, and are able to create designs based on the content of a package. Site designers often are working both on the daily site and long-term projects that involve many layers and teams within a newsroom.
Multimedia editors: These editors work with photographers, videographers, graphic artists, reporters and editors throughout the newsroom in producing content across multiple storytelling platforms such as photos, video, audio, audio slideshows and documents. They often use tools such as Flash, Soundslides and video editors such as Final Cut or Adobe Premier.