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Moving the Newsroom: Post-Industrial News Spaces and Places

newsrooms

The Washington Post is inquiring whether to sell its downtown building, even under Jeff Bezos. The beleaguered The Star-Ledger is not just slashing employees, but its real estate too. Gannett is on a massive selling spree, shedding property for dollars.  Across the country, tiny newspapers and the crown jewels of newspaper chains are saying goodbye to their storied news homes.

Is this one more final, symbolic kick in the gut? After laying off people, are newsrooms going to pack up and leave their homes of glory, turning away from storied institutions that housed memories, legends, and recall back to a busier time and, at least in memory, a golden era?

Yes, this multimedia Tow Report concludes that symbols — buildings — matter. And that’s why reinvention in new places matter — when a news organization turns to a newer, smaller space, hoping that architecture might reshape a digital future.

Grand plans for news hubs have emerged to create systems for breaking news, a central manifestation for the organization of ideas, content and speed. But this seems like talk, right? It’s not, actually.

This is a detailed, extensive report. The overview will give you a quick hit, but look further: see what The Miami Herald, The Des Moines Register, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and The Seattle Times have done to turn from sadness to opportunity through a journey of physical space.

The official launch of the report is at 12pm, Thursday, April 10, 2014 at Columbia Journalism School. I will be moderating a panel discussion with Rick Hirsch, Managing Editor of The Miami Herald, Randy Brubaker, Senior News Director, Investigative Reporting, Des Moines Register, and Aurora Wallace, Clinical Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University. Lunch will be served. RSVP here.

Nikki Usher is a Tow Fellow working on the Tow Center’s Newsroom Places and Spaces in a Post-Industrial Age Project at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. The Newsroom Places and Spaces in a Post-Industrial Age Project is a project made possible by generous funding from both The Tow Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Newsroom Places and Spaces in a Post-Industrial Age Project ourneys to newsrooms that show a prominent sign of an adaptation to a post-industrial world: newsrooms that have left their buildings for smaller spaces, often entirely designed around the idea of a digital-first model, or that have repurposed their space to make way for non-journalists, hoping for synergy and a way to fill empty spaces. Follow Nikki Usher on Twitter @nikkiusher. To learn more about the Tow Center Fellowship Program, please contact the Tow Center’s Research Director Taylor Owen: taylor.owen@columbia.edu.