The Rocky-Go-Round

(Updated) In his May 5 column, Rocky Mountain News editor/publisher/president John Temple told readers about impending changes in the newsroom that are intended to help the tabloid keep pace in today's digital age. However, he didn't go into the level of detail he shared in a May 2 memo to staffers that's reproduced below.

According to insiders, many of the largest changes will take place in the features department, where two prominent scribes (who I'm still resisting the urge to mention by name because nothing's been finalized) are likely to be taking the March buyout offer. Features editor Mike Pearson (pictured) will focus on writing as the "voice" of the Spotlight section -- a mixed blessing, since his DVD reviews and opinion pieces are, for the most part, decidedly bland. With Pearson moving out of management, Joe Rassenfoss will oversee the Spotlight/Features department with assistance from deputy features editor Lesley Kennedy. In addition, news editor John Boogert will take over as Internet news editor, director of photography Janet Reeves becomes multimedia editor, Jim Trotter steps in as enterprise/projects editor, and Carol Hanner and Tonia Twichell will serve as content editor by day and night, respectively.

Although Temple mentioned some of the editor-level changes in his column, he left them out of his memo -- but plenty of other nuts and bolts are on view. Here's a look:


I wanted to provide a brief overview of the changes we're making to the structure and operation of the newsroom, announced today at a 4:30 p.m.meeting.

As we discussed early last year, we knew we had three major challenges in the coming 18 months. The first was to move to our new newsroom. The second was to redesign the paper for the new presses. The third was to introduce a new Web publishing system that would extend the ability to work on our Web site to more people in the newsroom. We had always planned on restructuring the newsroom to make the latter a reality. The separation plan we announced a few weeks ago just speeded up the process. We've started from the ground up and come up with an organization that we think will help us take our next big step in integrating our Web and print operations. Of course, we'll continue to learn and adapt as we go. But I believe these changes, to be implemented over the next month, will position us to excel even with our smaller staff size.

Here are a few key aspects of the reorganization:

We will have an Internet news editor to oversee decision making and development of news stories (from all departments) for our Web site. This person will start at 6 a.m., along with a Web reporter and a Web producer. A night assistant Internet news editor will take over the role in the evenings.

We will have regular Web deadlines and expect far more writing through of stories through the day. In this way, it will be akin to returning to the p.m. newspaper model.

We will have a day content editor who will oversee the entire operation of the newsroom, focusing on how content is developed and coordinated for print and the Web. A night content editor will take over in the afternoon.

We will have a newsroom multimedia editor, who in addition to overseeing the photo content of the paper will develop multimedia teams and expertise in each department and team with the day content editor to develop the news.

We will have an enterprise/projects editor who will oversee the daily and long-term enterprise in all departments. Department enterprise editors will work directly with this person as well as their direct supervisors.

We will move the business department to the "news" side of the room so we can increase cooperation between all news departments.

We will simplify our presentation structure. We'll have three teams: spotlight, sports and news. The news team will integrate the presentation editors from business, metro and wire.

We will simplify the structure of the Features department by making it a single team.

We will focus the efforts of the Interactive Department on developing the features and functionality of our Web site. They have a lot of work to do to roll out our new publishing system and support the newsroom. So if you have a question on why something isn't in the right place on our Web site or why something wasn't posted, you'll now go to the Internet news editor or his assistant, not to Mike Noe or his staff.

Ultimately, to be effective we're going to need to work even more closely together and communicate even more than before. I look forward to seeing the great things we're going to do.


On the surface, this plan seems sensible and smart -- and it'll have to be if the Rocky is to survive in the current print-unfriendly newspaper environment. -- Michael Roberts

Update, May 9: The original version of this blog, posted on May 7, stated that Rocky Lifestyles editor Maria Cote was bound for the metro department. Now, according to knowledgeable sources, Cote will stay in the features section. However, there are two more changes of note that were announced in the following e-mail, sent to staffers late on May 8 under the signatures of editor/publisher president Temple and managing editor Deb Goeken:


We're pleased to announce two editing changes related to our newsroom restructuring.

* Assistant Sports Editor Colleen McDaniel is moving to the city desk, where she will be an ACE and serve as night city editor. Colleen also will continue to edit the newly-redesigned Tracks section. Colleen is a terrific, creative journalist who has done excellent work in sports, where she most recently edited the Saturday section. She will bring lots of new ideas and perspective to the metro news operation.

* Assistant Business Editor Darrell Proctor will become the Assistant Internet News Editor. Darrell will report to Internet News Editor John Boogert and work from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. overseeing news on the Web. Darrell distinguished himself in this area planning the leading online coverage of the Nacchio trial.

We'll keep you informed of further developments.

John and Deb

With list of official buyout-offer takers still in the offing, such developments are coming soon. -- Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts