Fundamentally changing the way a newsroom operates

Since we launched our new training program on “Leading the Newsroom Through Change” with a pilot workshop for Indian editors last month, I’ve been asked by editors from around the world for more information about what we are trying to accomplish and how they can benefit.

There are a lot of newsrooms that make superficial changes and call it ‘integration’. But they never really tackle the deep-seated structural and habitual issues. These newsrooms often struggle with digital, and after a few months of change they give up and the old ways creep back in.

The process of change, if led properly, can lead to significant improvements to print as well as digital. So editorial leaders need to find ways to change the set up of their organizations to ensure everyone is empowered and everyone gets involved. This means fundamentally changing everything about how a newsroom operates. Our two-day course is designed to give an introduction to what is involved and how to start tackling it.

Here’s what the program provides and how it differs from other approaches.


  • Two-day specialized workshop dedicated to leading the newsroom through change, specifically digitization of editorial and finding ways to structure the newsroom to handle both print and digital in unique ways.
  • Other leadership workshops tend to place paramount focus on the personal psychology of newsroom leaders or on trying to change the organizational culture. But this workshop approach differs. It ties leadership issues to the practical workflow and structural changes needed to transform the culture.

Who is the workshop for?

  • Editorial leaders with varying backgrounds and experiences in leading change. Past participants have come both from newsrooms at the start of the process and those who are well into it.
  • The workshop provides an introduction for those who are just thinking about how digital could lie comfortably next to print, particularly with a very traditional mindset in the newsroom. It is also designed for those who have started the process and are making progress, but are challenged by the constant change to practices and habits. And it can benefit editors who thought they had come to the end of the process but discovered they had missed a few steps.

The challenges

  • How to connect better with the audience
  • How to best handle stories across print and digital
  • How to engage a very traditional newsroom culture with digitalization
  • What kinds of roles and skills were needed
  • How to build teams across different departments
  • How to lead a group of people through the transformation process
  • How to change the editorial workflow to include a more seamless use of digital, particularly around planning content
  • How to move away from over-reliance on breaking news online
  • How to refresh digital traffic when its has stagnated

Workshop Content

Context and Audience Insight 

  • How newsrooms have evolved, using examples from around the world, with a focus on new audience relationships and an approach that goes beyond the usual platform-based data and demographics. (A good example is the audience insight project of Kleine Zeitung in Austria. Click here for a case study by the IFMS).

Digital and print story telling exercise

  • Using local demographic data and individual publication content, the exercise demonstrates how planning and workflow are used to best provide stories across platforms to reach different target groups.

Building digital into workflows

  • The workshop examines new planning structures to improve internal communications and coordination, incorporating audience insight and digital planning into the daily routine, and how newsrooms can build successful digital paid content strategies (for example, at VK in Sweden, get the case study here).

Structure and Roles

  • A detailed examination on how organizational structures and individual roles change as a result of digitalization, where the organizational dynamics need to be focused, how decisions are made, and how the process of planning, coordinating, content creation and production has to be managed during times of change.

Leadership & Culture

  • How newsrooms have managed planning and implementation and the practical steps they’ve taken to ensure a sense of urgency, high levels of involvement, monitoring of success and failure, and their methods for continuous improvement.

Creating a Change Plan

  • Each participant creates their own change plan, using material taken from the case studies. They work on key areas for their own newsroom including audience insight, story planning, workflows, roles, culture etc. They present what they would prioritize and how they would be implemented back at home.

For more information, contact me at s.schantin-williams@ifms-ltd.com


IFMS Blog Archive
IFMS Special reports
Kleine Zeitung Digital Transformation case study
Kleine Zeitung Digital Transformation case study
‘Västerbottens-Kuriren’ – Success with paid content in the regional press
‘Västerbottens-Kuriren’ – Success with paid content in the regional press