The realities of working in a small newsroom

I am now just over two weeks in to my new job as web editor at the Garden City Telegram and already am I learning a good deal about the realities of working in a newsroom of this size (that is to say, small), the most important of which seems to be, there is no specialization. While it is true that reporters have their beats, when you have three reporters doing the work that five once did, they have to be flexible. It is not uncommon for reporters here to exchange assignments based on availability, and all have either shot their own photographs or video since I have been here.

The same can be said for the editors. Though I am the web editor, over half of my day is spent on pagination and copy editing (this should be changing a bit once an open newsroom position is filled). Another quarter is spent putting stories on the web and maintaining Twitter, Facebook and local forum activity. That leaves just one quarter of my time for training, content creation and producing.

This then, leads to the term I have been hearing so much when asking other web/multimedia editors for advice, ROI. But what I continue to struggle with is what really brings back the highest return on investment and how hard does one push a staff that, in some ways, is already overworked? Are there numbers that say investing the time to develop evergreen databases brings in more readers than steady multimedia content? Does having a reporter in the office editing a video instead of reporting on a second story that day help the digital side? Does it hurt the print side?

Obviously I am learning as I go along, and can hopefully document some of the decisions that are made at the Telegram and their results.

On a side note, I thought it of interest to note, Garden City is home to San Jose mayor Chuck Reed as well as Victor Ortiz, a boxer that I helped film a short documentary of for my video class at Brooks Institute of Photography.

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