Keeping information easily accessible is an essential lesson for newsrooms
Trusting News has created hundreds of different resources that they regularly have to come back to and utilize in their work; which means they need to get the most they can out of organizational tools.
For those who end up needing to access previous content a lot, Airtable, and other project management programs like it, offer the opportunity to organize lots of content and make everyday internal resources more discoverable and accessible to multiple people at once.
A common issue in newsrooms is when someone leaves the team, they may take access to internal documents with them. An example would be an audience engagement editor who wrote out the newsroom policies for responding to comments on social media leaving. Written versions of those policies may end up lost or unable to be changed if not organized thoughtfully and with permissions transferred over on the doc before they leave.
To combat this common issue each doc should ideally have multiple owners and a transition plan for transferring over ownership / permissions if a person leaves. Alternatively, using the Attachments field in Airtable is one other way to get around this issue, if the doc will not require a lot of editing.
By adding internal documents such as policies on corrections and sources, you are encouraging more consistency within your newsroom. Airtable not only makes these documents accessible, but easy to find. With the search option, staff can find exactly what they need without spending a lot of time looking for it.
Trusting news has a master list with every resource, but they also have sections to tell us where to find specific pieces. When you enter a resource into the master list, you can give it a specific column category, which can help with grouping specific resources in the future.
We use a template for Airtable that includes different categories on the side that we put different resources in. By hitting the little plus sign on an empty line, you are able to add a new entry, and name it whatever you want. You can add a section to your sidebar for each category as well. This makes the process of looking for resources on ethics, fairness or bias easier, simply click that tab and see what is there.
For sorting internal resources, your newsroom might have specific types of documentation related to corrections, sourcing, editing, or social media usage, like Trusting News does. Airtable makes it simple to add or remove categories, so it’s easy to tailor the program to the needs of your staff.
Trusting News’ organizational system includes a link to the resource, the type of content it is, the platform it’s on, and a place for notes. Having a column for each resource to leave notes is incredibly helpful as it allows for any important information associated with that entry to be attached. For example, if your newsroom policies on mugshot usage are currently being rewritten, you can leave a note on your current policy’s entry that tells staff the information might be changing.
Another great option for sorting through the many video resources is to use the attachment options within entries to add thumbnails. Trusting News has lots of YouTube videos, but it’s sometimes hard to find which one you’re looking for. That’s where using a gallery view and customizing the record’s card to include a thumbnail image can help.
When using something such as grid view, the image is at the very end unless you move columns around. This is helpful if a staff member may not remember the name of the video, but they remember who was speaking in it. This is a great option for YouTube videos or training resources that are being organized in Airtable.
The calendar view in Airtable can also help with day to day tasks. You can fill it out just like a regular calendar, but the additional record fields for more organizing could help your newsroom in the long run. The calendar is great for your entire newsroom or smaller groups, such as the editorial team. You can schedule in when you would like certain items published or completed, or schedule in team meetings. You can include links to zoom meetings or links or attach documents you’d like someone to read or use. The calendar can be public to everyone who has access to your base, so it’s a great way to keep everyone in your newsroom on the same page.
Airtable also offers free templates that newsrooms can use. The great thing about these templates is that they can be used for both internal and public facing resources.
Are you looking for a way to archive newsletters in one place? Would you rather organize your newsroom’s code of conduct and corrections policies? A particularly useful option is the Internal Communications Editorial Calendar for sorting content. This template makes it easy to create different content categories. You can also put in helpful information for future reference, such as who wrote that resource, when it came out, if it’s public or not and which team in your newsroom it’s associated with.
If you want to focus more on organizing internal newsroom documents, Airtable offers great templates focused on HR duties. My personal favorite is the HR Knowledge Base. This template offers an easy, straightforward system for organizing documents. With this base, you can easily label the resource, specify the area and topic it relates to, and easily link and/or attach the content.
When you organize your resources, you are able to make them easier to find and far more accessible. For Trusting News, this is an essential way to save time, easily adapt and change your base to fit your specific needs. These templates may not be perfect for what you and your newsroom needs, but it’s a great place to get inspiration and think of ways to help make you a bit more organized.
This article was edited by Mikaela Rodenbaugh and Kat Duncan.