Friday, October 8, 2010

Raju Narisetti: "We should not be gatekeepers, but gateopeners,"

Hamburg, 8 October: Raju Narisetti, the managing editor of the Washington Post presented his vision of the sustainable model of multimedia newsrooms at the 17th World Editors Forum in Hamburg, Germany.

He believes that the future of newsrooms is undoubtedly digital, and that newspapers should aggregate quality news from external sources and integrate this for their traditional readers.

"We should not be gatekeepers, but gateopeners," Narisetti said. "When people come to our site they expect a certain quality of content. So the content we aggregate has to be good," he added.

However, Narisetti noted that the idea of making news pure online is "a little bit false". He reminded the audience of the still huge circulations of the daily newspapers in the US. Speaking about new online media organisations, Narisetti claimed that "they give people what they want, sometimes even more". According to him, this can lead to irresponsibility of online journalists and bloggers that traditional journalism can't afford. Narisetti called it "the low cost of making mistakes." Nevertheless, he pointed out that the importance of the web-projects is in engaging readers.

Narisetti believes in paid online content. "We didn't give away content at the Wall Street Journal [he worked there for some years] and I don't think we should." He hopes to change the fact that the Post's website is free "sooner rather than later."

Moves to charge for content by News Corp and the New York Times will speed up the general trend towards paying online, Narisetti believes. "We need to charge them for something and that something has to have value for which they are willing to pay," he added.

When asked about changes in everyday morning conferences and the coordination of digital and print editions, Narisetti replied that the 10am editorial meeting is more formal than others during the day. Beginning with the discussion about trends in the website, the editorial work switches to the content of the paper edition.
With regards to sub/copy editors, Narisetti admitted that "I think it's an area we've cut a little too much." The Washington Post's cutting of editors attracted much media attention following some significant errors in articles.
He emphasized the increasing role of Facebook for news. "It is the place where I want our journalism to be - where the people are."
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