La Nación’s newsroom
Spanish version: La Nación: liderando el camino con el cambio en la redacción
“The La Nación newsroom is split into three big teams: digital edition, print edition and central newsroom. The digital team takes care of the digital strategy, of the minute-by-minute updates of our digital products, and of specific aspects such as social media, metrics and breaking news. The print edition team is basically formed by editors with expertise in that format, its readers and its business, all still very important for La Nación. And in our central newsroom, editors concentrate on developing the best journalism possible for each platform, keeping in mind their specific function and nature,” says Guyot.
“Speed and quantity for the digital products; depth and development for our print products. And for the whole, journalistic accuracy, seriousness and proximity, hallmarks of La Nación that we try to embed in all our content.”
In a speech earlier this year, you mentioned that to achieve a greater range of content and a spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity are necessary. How do you create this environment in your newsroom?
Individual talent is an essential input of quality journalism, but it is insufficient vis-à-vis the challenges news organisations are facing today. Having a great staff of reporters, editors, designers and photographers is simply no longer enough. Nowadays, to produce essential content, that talent has to combine with and be put to work in a particular environment that fosters individual initiative, teamwork creativity and innovation for developing new products. None of this is possible if the teams are not highly motivated and don’t share a sense of common purpose.
After years of bad news for our industry, there is a bleak cloud hanging like a shadow over our newsrooms, questioning the intrinsic value of what we do.
In every newsroom you can find disheartened or resigned people who have come to think that we are living the end of an era. On the basis of that paradigm of restriction, scarcity and defeat, the reinvention of journalism is rendered impossible. And that is the challenge of our times.
What efforts are made to enable journalists to innovate?
A newsroom has to offer its reporters the widest range of creative opportunities. New features, new kinds of content, new formats, new products. And that is unfeasible without tearing down the walls between sections, disciplines and hierarchies, between the newsroom and the rest of the organization, and between the news organization itself and the outer world. It is a process that inevitably involves some amount of chaos and discomfort, thus demanding a fluent feedback aimed at building trust. It’s a long and winding road not exempt of missteps, but that is the road we have chosen to follow at La Nación. The key is translating that change of context and audience into real opportunities for the newsroom.
Has this new culture of innovation influences storytelling?
A few months ago, one of our editors came up with an idea for a project, called Argentina Extrema (Extreme Argentina). It is a new series that recounts the stories of people living in exceptional conditions: in Antarctica, in the hottest city in Argentina (47°C in summer), in Chaltén, a climbers’ mecca, among many others.
A few years ago, all that would have translated into a dozen stories published in a few pages of our print edition. Today, this project involves different teams, even some that are not part of our newsroom, and includes some space in our print edition, an interactive digital version, 9-minute web videos, even a TV series, a book and a photo exhibition. Naturally, those platforms don’t tell the same story, but complement one another. The project began in March and we are planning to launch it in September. The process is obviously more difficult and chaotic, but also much more stimulating.
How do you plan to go forward in developing the new newsroom?
To be able to move forward in this environment we are focusing our efforts on building a team of leaders with a clear vision of our future, with the essential and traditional journalistic skills but also with an open leadership style capable of transforming the newsroom into a powerhouse of learning. That powerhouse can give birth to the original and indispensable journalism the audience needs and chooses.
You launched an initiative called Conversaciones, recording three 18-minutes long interviews daily, from Monday to Friday. How does this tie into the new newsroom?
Early last year, we decided that within the digital environment, the video format needed its own relevance. So instead of mounting a small television studio in one of the boxes of our newsroom, we built it in the center, just where the assistant managing directors work, and with the whole of the newsroom as backdrop staging.
We wanted to think big: we chose our best reporters and columnists. We thus restored the art of conversation, with the best journalists of Argentina sitting side by side with presidential candidates, politicians, scientists, artists and athletes. Moreover, those interviews are seen on the first scroll of our website and you can select specific segments of the main Q&A through the video player. The impact was huge. During the first year, which we recently celebrated, we had more than 700 interviews, and served more than half a million viewed hours of video.
La Nación is adopting new platforms, for example, the news-on-demand service. Is the shift to a digital -mobile- environment your main challenge in terms of innovation?
Within the digital-mobile scene, the main challenge is probably fine-tuning the cycle of creation of new formats, including the different stages of planning, creation and development, but also assessment, understanding, adjustment, improvement or death of the formats.
We are now launching a new product for audiences ranging 17 to 25 years old who have little or no contact with our brand. We developed it through a startup modality, with hackathons during which the audience itself created the matrix of the product, whose main expression is on Facebook, Instagram and Slack. It’s called MuyLiebre, and the Beta stage is very auspicious. Besides, we have just launched a sort of digital TV news bulletin on demand, called La Nación PM: 30 minutes’ coverage of the most relevant news of the day. We are very excited with it and the audience is responding enthusiastically, but it’s too soon to draw conclusions.
Putting video at the centre of the newsroom.
La Nación has an enviable data journalism division. Read more about it here