Monday, December 04, 2006

First ground-level view
of Gannett's Info Center

Frank Aherns' story in the WaPost today is the first on-the-ground reporting I have seen about how the Gannett Information Center plan is being applied. If you haven't already clicked through from Romenesko, do it now.

As the dimensions of the program come into view, we're seeing both great ideas and some scary concepts at play. Much about their reorientation of news resources seems smart and worthwhile; at the minimum, I give them huge credit for trying to make major changes to meet the major challenges we face. Making the whole newsroom webcentric and focusing resources on helping readers access their own information through customized databases sounds just right. Encouraging citizen experts to participate in reporting complex subjects is well worth trying; I hope it works in practice the way many of us think it might, and I'm glad Gannett is going to give it a run.

Other priorities seem questionable to me from this distance. I'm not convinced that micronews (like the calendar signing that is the Post story's main anecdote) is very valuable to readers. I guess we'll see.

But having reporters go along on sales calls to seek "sponors" for a major reporting project is just wrong. Along with some other questionable practices Gannett editors are discussing off-the-record, I find that blurring of traditional editorial independence quite troubling.

Time will tell. Let's pay close attention; please let me know if you have observations sorth sharing.
– Howard Weaver

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