Tennessean: ‘We’re starting from square one with a new approach and a new set of jobs’

Update: It appears that all Gannett papers are “starting from square one.” | A Gannett journalist writes: “Told here in XXXX (please don’t say where I am) that the Gannett sites mentioned, and perhaps others, are pilot sites. Not everyone will do this, at least for now.”

* Asheville Citizen-Times editor: “We’re embarking on a sweeping reconfiguration of the way our news team is set up.”
* Pensacola News Journal editor: “We’re creating the newsroom of the future.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer has scheduled four Wednesday staff meetings – 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. – for the newsroom revamping announcement.

Stefanie Murray, executive editor of Gannett’s Tennessean, tells readers that “we’re embarking on an ambitious project to create the newsroom of the future” — a “reset” that she says puts staffers “even closer to the communities they cover.”

Stefanie Murray

Stefanie Murray

We will use scientific principles even more than before to listen to what our readers want and act accordingly. In other words, our judgment will improve because our listening is improving. … Also new: we’ll have staffers whose job it is to talk to, and engage with, the community.

Tennessean journalists have to reapply for employment because “we’re starting from square one with a new approach and a new set of jobs.”

We’re adding a reporter to cover University of Tennessee athletics, focusing two reporters on the comings-and-goings of Nashville’s lively retail scene and adding a reporter focused on tourism. We’ll have a four-person investigative team whose important mission is to serve as the watchdogs of the community.

Murray tells readers that “I’m confident you’ll love the end result.”

A staffer at another Gannett paper writes in an email: “Not the only Gannett newspaper where this may happen.”

Another Romenesko reader: “This is happening throughout Gannett publishing. My [relative] works for the Asbury Park Press and they have been told the same thing. …Just like what they’ve done at the Star-Ledger and members of that group, they’re essentially eliminating copy editors.”

Another reader: “It looks like Gannett is following – almost to a T – the model put forth by Advance: Community engagement, reapplying for jobs, huge emphasis on sports etc. The object is to let readers help dictate coverage. The result, however, is that, typically, Google search numbers dictate coverage.”

Know more? Send me an email.

Update 2Nashville Public Radio reports: “Ultimately, the newsroom will shrink by 15%. Currently, the headcount is at 89. There are 76 positions on the new org chart.”

* Tennessean unveils bold new newsroom structure (tennessean.com)
* Feb. 2014: Detroit Free Press digital boss Stefanie Murray named Tennessean top editor (freep.com)