From the editor's desk: A great time to be a reporter
By editor, Adam Wratten
I REMEMBER my first shift in a large regional daily newsroom.
It was 2001 and I'd just moved from the Whitsunday Times, a weekly, to Mackay's Daily Mercury.
It was 8.15am on the dot and about a dozen reporters crammed into the chief of staff's small office that warm spring Monday morning. The boss quickly introduced me to the others, asked if I had any stories I was working on that day, then gave me three pieces to follow.
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I went to my desk, made my phone calls, interviewed people, booked the photographer in for pics and wrote up my copy. Life was simple.
For reporters, the modern newsroom is almost unrecognisable from those days.
Newsrooms now have less people on the ground and it's fair to say the reporters do a much greater array of things.
Our journalists at the NewsMail can find themselves writing on pretty much any topic on any given day, copy checking, taking photos, shooting and processing video and spending a fair amount of their time promoting their pieces through a variety of channels, mainly social media.
We may have one or two specialised reporters in certain areas, such as court and council, but generally every day is a new adventure.
The evolution of the newsroom has been both challenging and exciting.
Despite the changes I'd argue there's never been a better time than now to be a good reporter. The good ones are going to shine.
This week your NewsMail went to a premium online model.
This means the metered model we have used in the past 30 months is no more.
Under premium, you will see more articles with a rainbow- coloured plus sign next to them. This means the story is available to subscribers only. But any story without a plus sign is able to be read for free.
Nothing changes for current digital subscribers, who get to access everything under the same arrangement they were on.
What it means for us in the newsroom is that we will further sharpen our focus on stories that you want.
In the recent past we've been able to see our pieces in the online space and track how many people were on them. It was good but not perfect.
These people could come from anywhere in the online world and with the way a lot of traffic came from social media, not only were many not paying for the product but it was often the bizarre or freakish pieces that got greater interest.
There was nothing more disheartening for a good reporter than seeing the piece they'd invested their heart and soul into registering half the number of people reading it as a breaking crash or, even worse, an obscure thing happening on the other side of the world that by some anomaly was getting an audience on the NewsMail's website.
While no doubt pieces about bizarre sex cults in far-off countries are interesting, they're not what Bundaberg people will pay to read in their NewsMail.
Now we can see what local journalism our reporters are producing that our subscribers are reading in real time. We can also see which stories people are prepared to subscribe to the NewsMail for.
We have the largest newsgathering team in this region. It's a hard-working team.
In the coming period we will be living and learning to improve our consistency in delivering the news you want.
Unlike the reporters of 20-odd years ago, we no longer rely on gut instinct or the whims of a boss as to what is and isn't newsworthy.
We now have access to data that, used well, enables us to deliver compelling content. A reporter who works to understand the data and audience can really shine.
We may have less people than what worked in the industry of yesteryear, but we can make more informed decisions and have access to technology to deliver a quality experience for our readers.