Newsroom Workflow: Tools and tactics to simplify and iterate

Mizzou students Abby Ivory-Ganja and Marlee L. Baldridge are at the Online News Association Conference to cover tech and innovation sessions for RJI. Visit our ONA page to see all the coverage. 

Story by Abby Ivory-Ganja

If your newsroom’s workflow runs well, it’s easier to create great journalism. Silos can create miscommunication and confusion. In a session designed to share information around making newsroom processes easier, here are some takeaways: 


At the Wall Street Journal, many meetings are booked for a half hour, and sometimes there will be another half hour booked behind on it. But if the meeting is billed as an hour, it will take an hour. 

Michael Ventura, deputy editor for newsroom workflow at the WSJ, recommends using an agenda in meetings too. But don’t use the meeting to recite the agenda again. A good meeting is for more robust discussion around the agenda. 

Also, if you want to set a no phone policy in a meeting, ask yourself why the meeting isn’t engaging enough to keep attendees off their phones. 


Email and Slack 

Many newsrooms have adopted Slack as a communication tool, but it hasn’t replaced email… yet. One problem with sending an email to a large group is that you don’t always know if everyone has read and acknowledged it. Slack can help solve that problem. Ventura recommends using emojis on Slack to acknowledge a message has been seen. 

Make sure to set and share guidelines around what kind of communications belong in Slack and consolidate or delete email groups to move them to Slack channels if possible. 


Implementing new tools 

Approach change as “tiny experiments” for 3-6 weeks. People often love the “experiment” and don’t want to change back after it ends. But framing it as an experiment allows room for feedback and iteration, and makes people feel less resistant to change. 

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