Friday, May 9, 2008

Brazilian news group manages convergence

At many North American media outlets, journalists resist the notion that they should learn to produce news on multiple platforms -- audio, video, text and web.

To hear the editors of Group RBS tell it, things are different in Brazil. Marcelo Rech and Marta Gleich reported in an article on Editors Weblog that their journalists were actually excited about the possibility of learning how to report in other media. It didn't hurt that there was a program of pay incentives for those who mastered new technologies. RBS also has a "culture of convergence," according to Gleich because it has long incorporated newspapers (8), television stations (18), and radio stations (19). The key to making it work is continuous training and communication, she says.

The company, whose flagship newspaper is Zero Hora, officially launched an 80-person integrated newsroom in December. Bringing all these creative possibilities together has in turn sparked creativity among the journalists, Gleich said in a podcast interview with the International Center for Journalists. The biggest challenge at the moment, she says, is that print journalists still have a lot to learn about video.

Nelson Sirotsky, CEO of RBS, told Editors Weblog that the integrated newsroom was aimed at improving quality and productivity rather than cutting costs. Zero Hora has added 30 journalists, bringing the total to 240, during the integration process.

Where will the money come from
Gleich does worry that the internet is not producing enough revenue to support high-quality journalism. The internet ads are not paying the freight right now. "We have lots of journalists here, and this operation is very expensive."

Zero Hora has embraced community participation in its website, from reader commentaries to blogs. It has invited hundreds of bloggers under its tent. "If there are good blogs in the community, you should put them inside your website."

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