No more web-only reporters at the Globe

Mary McGuire

It’s a week of change inside the newsroom at The Globe and Mail.

The newspaper and the web operations are moving to become one integrated newsroom, and the days of web only reporters are over.

Jim Sheppard, who has been the executive editor of for more than two years, takes on a new task this week as the day editor of the Globe. He described what the changes will mean when he met recently with the journalism faculty at Carleton University.

“The online world is where the staggering growth has been occurring. So far this year the traffic to our website, depending on which of the four major measures we use, has soared somewhere between 50-75 per cent,” Sheppard said.

The Globe is introducing organizational changes, in part, to ensure that when stories are assigned, decisions are made about what the total package will include for Globe readers both online and later in print. He said when the morning assignments are drawn up they will now include tasks for the web.

As well, he said, there will be a new approach when the editors arrive in the morning.

“We are going to be asking the question ‘What’s the best way to tell this story?’ Do we actually need the reporter to go out and do something for us or should we use the reporter in a different way. For example, should we use a wire story on the actual breaking news event and should we have the reporter come online to do a Q and A after the fact? Do we need video to go with that story? Is that a story that has a lot of background to it that can be told best on the Web as a timeline instead of writing another two thousand words of text to go with it?.”

When stories break throughout the day, he said, editors will also decide earlier than they have in the past how the story will be handled in the next day’s paper after it has run online.

He described this week’s changes as transitional.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time for all of us to get our heads around how this is actually going to operate.” Sheppard said.

In addition, he said, the Globe is introducing a new multiplatform publishing system which will be phased in over the next several months, making it easier for editors, when they are finished handling a story, to choose to publish it either online, in the paper, via blackberry or a range of other options, or all of the above at the same time.

The integration of the newspaper and web operations also means editors will continue to decide to run some stories online only. Sheppard cited examples such as the decision, for the first time, not to run the riding-by-riding results after the federal election in the paper. The results were only available online. Similarly the members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new cabinet were introduced online in an interactive feature, but a list of their names and portfolios did not appear in the paper.

“The biggest change from my point of view in the last two years is thinking about the kind of journalism we do as storytelling rather than as traditional journalism and that is one of the things we are going to be doing much more at The Globe and Mail in the near future,” Sheppard said.