Newsroom convergence in Belarus and beyond
Consumers of internet news in Belarus are becoming younger and more active. Publishers and chief editors within the Belarusian print media grow daily more conscious of the necessity to produce rich, multimedia content to attract these users. It’s all part of the migration to what Marina Klinova and Natalia Afanasjeva see as the East European ‘convergent newsroom’.
The internet is not just changing the nature of content, but is shaping the development of an entirely new form of content delivery. Whereas previously each channel of media broadcast existed separately, nowadays we are facing the amalgamation and integration of media resources and environments. These days, users are expectant of not only text, but visual, audio, social and geolocative augmentation too.
As technologies develop and devices upgrade, new propagation methods appear. To create such content, traditional news organisations have to readjust. Convergent workflows and news teams replace the traditional newspaper editorial board, producing content that is truly multimedia. Moreover, the ‘convergant newsroom’, that brave invention of the Western journalist, is being successfully transplanted into East European soil.
The newsroom is changing. It is not just editorial communications that are radically changing in Belarus, but also staff motivation and roles. Journalists and editors have had to fundamentally change their approach to organising the content of their publications in these new conditions. The job description of a journalist has become broader and the technical equipment (photo cameras, video cameras, notebooks, tablets, smartphones) they need mastery of continues to increase.
In editorial offices throughout the former Soviet region, new job profiles have appeared. Content managers and SEO specialists are employed to maintain the reputation and marketshare of traditional media brands. These trends are not only applicable to print media, but to radio stations and television channels too. All are adapting to new formats of content production in order survive new threats from online platforms such as vesti.ru, webtelek.com and givan.ru.
In the post-Soviet space of Ukraine and Russia, this transition to convergent technologies in the media is instantly noticeable, not only with print publications launching online versions but aso with news agencies, whose work with supplementary material (video, audio, photos, data representation, infographics) is often as important as the original news content itself.
News in Belarus.
There’s a new generation of internet users in Belarus and they are getting younger. They have more spare income and are active consumers of news. Visualisation of news content and use of quality multimedia resources have raised the website traffic among this demographic.This is attracting advertisers to place their advertisements online for these new consumers, a move which reaps commercial profits on par with the sale of print publications.
In turn, the attraction of this new wave of users to online publications then offers the potential for many traditional news publications (mostly newspapers) to convert these users to purchasers of the printed versions. Thus we observe how the media industry landscape is changing, how multimedia is actually strengthening news publications as a more powerful sector of modern business. Publishers and chief editors within Belarusian print media grow daily more conscious of the necessity to change their editorial policy, to produce rich content, thus shifting the emphasis towards quality not quantity.
Convergence in the newsroom.
An important factor on the way to building the convergent newsroom is the choice of software. It should guarantee speed, mobility, be centred on multimedia and accentuate the interactivity of the content production working process. Sourcefabric’s announcement that they have begun work on the project of developing a new software program called Superdesk is good news for the Belarusian newsroom.
The main aim of the project is the automation of the convergent newsroom’s workflow, enabling editorial staff to to produce and publish news for print, online platforms, television and radio, whilst keeping up with their social networks - all in one programme. Integrating Superdesk with Newscoop, the open content management system for professional journalists, and Airtime, the open radio software for scheduling and remote station management, completes the organisation’s commitment to supporting professional journalism in this region and beyond.
With a new system capable of automatising newsroom workflow, reducing expenditure, effectively organising media and structuring information, it seems the editor’s dream has finally come true.