Leading newsrooms in a time of crisis

How newsroom leaders in the Executive Education cohort at Newmark are innovating in the age of COVID-19

Anita Zielina, Director of News Innovation and Leadership at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, inspires the Executive Education cohort during their most recent residency in January. (Photo: Jessica Bal)

Anita Zielina, Director of News Innovation and Leadership at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, recently wrote to the 16 participants in the Executive Education cohort, who are newsroom leaders from across the world, about how to move forward in this time of global crisis. Here is an excerpt:

COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the way we live, work, collaborate, communicate, teach our children and connect with loved ones.

News leaders across the world – like the many members of our Executive Education cohort – have been busy managing the professional side of the situation: Having to cut costs, layoff teams and manage furloughs – all while handling what is likely the biggest story of our lifetime within a frantic news environment.

We are reminding ourselves daily that while weathering these challenges, we must also allow space to grieve, to mourn professional losses, to struggle with new realities, to be tired and to feel a deep insecurity.

But we are also reminded of this: That this too, shall pass. It might sound like a banality, but every crisis is a unique opportunity for change.

As journalists and media leaders, we are concerned about the acceleration of the decline of traditional news business models. During this global crisis, we are forced to make rapid adjustments, which will undoubtedly mean the demise of some media organizations.

But there are several fantastic opportunities, as well.

We see indicators for a renewed sense of trust from the public, as shown in the dramatic increase of traffic and subscriptions most media organizations have seen in the past few weeks.

People are deeply engaged with our journalism, and the crisis might give all of us a window of opportunity to rethink our media outlets to better serve their communities.

And we all experience the digital shift that the current situation is facilitating in our organizations: Suddenly, working remotely, communicating on digital channels, writing for an online and mobile audience and collaborating on new digital products has become the new normal rather than an exotic behavior.

More than ever, we feel a deep personal responsibility to help shape the future of journalism, and play an active role in making sure this crisis, ultimately, leaves us stronger rather than weaker.

In the Executive Program in News Innovation and Leadership at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, we are actively thinking about the future of journalism. We are speaking our audacious ideas for a new journalism landscape out loud, collaborating with other leaders across the world, sharing insights, experimenting, learning and growing.

Here are just a few of the questions we’re prioritizing over the coming months in the program:

• How might we build a better post-Corona media world?

• How can we use this trigger event to build sustainable trust and serve our communities better?

• How can we be the leaders our organizations need in this time of insecurity?

• What are the behaviors, products, workflows or assumptions we need to, finally, let go of?

• What are the products and business models we will need after the crisis, and how can we be sure we prioritize them now?

Moving forward, we plan to share what we’ve tested and learned in the hopes that you, too, are beginning to think of this time as a space for growth and opportunity.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing insights and learnings from our cohort of media leaders who come from global newsrooms large and small.

We hope you join us in the future for conversations about the future sustainability of news. 💪

Want to get to know the media leaders in the Executive Education cohort who inspire us? Read about them here:

You can also follow us on Twitter at @NewmarkJLeaders. And stay up-to-date with news and events by signing up for our newsletter.

Media Leadership Initiatives at the Newmark J-School

Training leaders to navigate the intersections of product…

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