Doing more with less in a newsroom: My BarCamp News Innovation presentation

The very first presentation I ever gave to group of professional peers was at Philly’s BarCamp News Innovation in 2009. I was about to graduate from Temple University’s School of Media & Communication and had just launched NEast Philly. Along came the first-ever BCNI and a couple hundred journalists eager to talk about news. Conveniently located in Temple’s Journalism School building, no less.

Six years later, and I’ve presented twice more at BCNI — three years ago on behalf of NewsWorks, where I was transitioning a breaking news blog into a social media strategy, and two weeks ago in my current role as Billy Penn’s community manager.

I prepared a few slides, seen below, about Billy Penn’s strategy for doing more with less and making our five-person team look and feel more like 50. Some highlights:

  • We stick to explainers and don’t rush to cover breaking news. Plenty of other publications will cover the newsy stuff, and we can link to that.
  • We curate content on our site and on social. So while we might only produce 5 of our own stories a day, we’re talking about and linking to dozens of others.
  • We’re responsive on social media. You tweet us, we’ll tweet you back. Engagement is high and it makes our staff look larger when we respond quickly.

My fellow journalists asked lots of great questions after the presentation, which is my favorite thing about BCNI. The atmosphere is informal and presenters often abandoned their slides to indulge in worthwhile tangents.

But the very best part of this 50-minute session for me was the understanding a lot of journalists in the room had about Billy Penn’s transparent efforts to make money. For years the conversation about money and news had focused on lost advertising revenue, or public media’s membership struggles. To talk about money just a few years ago at BCNI — or any other news conference — was pretty taboo; journalists were just support to report.

I’m a firm believe in life and in work that you should know where your money is coming from and how much of it you have. It’s great to be working for a company that understands that, and to see more and more journalists embracing that.

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Shannon Wink

Shannon Wink is a Philadelphian and experienced reporter, editor, community manager and content marketer.

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