MARCH 2, 2022

Story-Centric Workflows Are the Future of News Production

On-the-scene reporter sitting in car sends a story to the newsroom via a tablet.

Once upon a time, producing the news was relatively simple: workflows and teams focused on the news program at hand, crafting the broadcast according to a specific rundown.

News, though, is no longer at just one specific time. It is uploaded, downloaded, and shared on multiple social media platforms in multiple aspect ratios. Teams are just as widely distributed as the content they produce, and likewise, the news cycle isn't confined to the rhythms of local or national news programs.

Against this backdrop, story-centric workflows have become more common for the media and broadcast industry. This approach to workflows can help teams address many of the issues raised by the growing pains of adjusting to a decentralized, always-on news environment.

Embracing the Decentralized, Distributed, Always-On News Environment

Newsroom workflows are continuously adapting, influenced by a number of factors:

  1. The news cycle is 24/7. The advent of cable news such as CNN in the US spurred the first wave of 24/7 news coverage in the US; once it became feasible to stream video, it was only a matter of time before the news business and the content business became intertwined. Now, rather than waiting for a specific news program, audiences expect access to news as soon as it happens.
  2. News teams are distributed. This is the new COVID reality: As the pandemic wears on, safety means that only the most essential work is done in the studio. Workflows in these hybrid newsrooms need to be configured with an eye toward efficiency, remote collaboration, and moving media around as little as possible.
  3. Audiences may want news anywhere, anytime. "[Audiences] are not all just sitting down at five o'clock to watch news anymore," NBC Universal Vice President Matt Goldberg told our Making the Media podcast. "They're watching news when they want to on demand, they're watching news on their phones, they're watching news on their iPads, on desktop, and they're watching using social media."

A story-centric approach considers stories as entities in and of themselves rather than merely as pieces of a single news program to be archived.

Approaching a Story-Centric Workflow

Story-centric workflows are the result of a story-first mindset. This kind of workflow allows multiple people to access and work on the same assets using a single interface, bringing together every product within a news production system. Team members can receive tasks within the system, complete them within that system, and then use that same system to publish to the desired broadcast or digital platform.

"It's about finding original stories and just getting them out there, and just making sure that wherever they're landing, they're landing in the right form, so that the audience can appreciate them on their terms," Philip Bromwell, digital native content editor at RTÉ Ireland, told our Making the Media podcast. "It's about delivering content wherever, whenever the audience wants it these days. We could end up doing four or five different versions of the same story—which is a bit laborious, and maybe at the end of it you've fallen a bit out of love with the story, but unfortunately, for news professionals, I think that's the reality of the industry today."

Using a story-centric workflow, then, a journalist out in the field who broadcasts on Facebook Live can also upload that asset to automatically be published on Twitter or YouTube. Later, or at the same time, the asset may be edited for an upcoming news program.

Implementing Story-Centric Workflows in Your Newsroom

Most newsrooms already have a digital team. But implementing these workflows means thinking about stories holistically rather than repackaging a single piece already produced for broadcast.

The most crucial element to implementing a story-centric workflow is being able to work with assets collaboratively within a single interface. This sounds simple, but not every newsroom media management product can manage it.

A story-centric newsroom solution empowers distributed teams to:

  • Quickly find content across media databases and social channels.
  • Keep tabs on assignments through story topics.
  • Collaborate on and update stories in real time.
  • Automatically publish content to multiple platforms at the same time.

The right tech can position newsroom teams to meet both business and consumer expectations, even when they suddenly change. Perhaps most importantly, this solution helps teams future-proof their investments, allowing for product integrations as broadcast industry tech continues to evolve.

The media and broadcast industry is undergoing a sea change. In a 24/7 news environment, having a long lag between news breaking and your story publishing is simply not in viewers' best interest. Distributed news teams have audiences hungry for content—they need the ability to push stories out instantly to the appropriate platforms, and story-centric workflows can enable them to do just that.

Can a “content from anywhere” workflow change broadcasting altogether for the better?

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  • Oriana Schwindt Headshot

    Oriana Schwindt is a freelance writer based in New York. She primarily covers the TV industry, dabbling also in travel and culture.

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