In the old days all a newspaper reporter had to worry about was writing his story for the next day’s edition. Now he has to be thinking about multiple platforms and different ways of getting the news out the door.
Writes Frank Aherns of The Washington Post in the latest edition of American Journalism Review:
A snapshot of newspapering, 21st-century style:
It’s May 25, and the verdicts are being read in the government’s fraud case against former Enron Corp. executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling.
They’re in a courtroom in Houston, and I’m in Washington, sitting in front of a computer on the Continuous News Desk in the newsroom of the Washington Post. The CND is the Post’s intermediary between the newspaper and our Web site, as well as the television networks that feature our reporters and Washington Post Radio, a venture the paper started in March. To my left is a desktop television. To the right, a live microphone to Washington Post Radio. Pressed against my right ear is a set of headphones.
I am listening to the verdicts being read on CNBC with my left ear and hearing the radio host’s questions in my right ear. As the verdicts are reported on TV, I repeat them on the radio. Once we reported CNBC’s news on our radio station, I would begin blogging. Moments later, I would appear live on CNN Headline News in the small TV studio in the Post’s newsroom just behind the CND.
At some point, hours later in this day, I would write an actual newspaper story.
This hectic day in late May marked the end of a remarkable experiment in multiplatform journalism that the Post and I tried. It is one that will be repeated here and, I’m guessing, eventually at most other papers as we all attempt to follow our readers from the printed page to the Internet, radio, television and whatever other platform they choose. (See "Adapt or Die,"June/July.)