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May 22, 2009, 9:59 a.m.

Inside five newsrooms that H.L. Mencken wouldn’t recognize

On this Friday before the long weekend, we’ve put together five video tours of newsrooms that are new, innovative, or otherwise noteworthy. The first, above, is one I shot during a visit to Talking Points Memo earlier this month. Andrew Golis, deputy publisher of TPM, walked me around the site’s new loft on the seventh floor of a red-brick building in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

The faces you’ll see, in order of appearance: Golis, Ben Craw (editor of TPMtv), Justin Elliott (homepage editor), Lila Shapiro (editor of TPM Cafe), interns, Eric Kleefield (reporter for TPMDC), Brian Beutler (TPMDC reporter and the site’s newest hire), Zachary Roth (reporter for TPMMuckraker), Diane Rinaldo (VP of sales, whom we interviewed about TPM’s ad strategy), Al Shaw (associate publisher in charge of IT), Millet Israeli (general manager and general counsel), and Josh Marshall (founder, editor, publisher, and Israeli’s husband).

Though their journalistic methods may be novel, TPM’s newsroom has a familiar feel: very smart, very young journalists working too hard in hip but unglamorous quarters. However, most newsrooms don’t have a Polk Award (very briefly sort of visible on top of the bookshelf near Israeli’s desk). After the jump, video tours of the Gawker Media, Daily Telegraph, Spokesman Review, and Valley Independent Sentinel newsrooms. And at the very end, there’s a transcript of our TPM video.

The open layout with reporters working at long tables may become the new-media standard because it’s almost identical to what you’ll find in Gawker Media‘s new offices in New York. Here’s a brief video of those digs shot by YouTube user hirbehozo and recently promoted by Gawker chief Nick Denton:

To accompany that video, check out this seating chart published by Gawker alum Choire Sicha at The Awl, his new venture with fellow alum Alex Balk:

Next is The Daily Telegraph in London, which recently integrated its web and print operations while laying out the newsroom around a central “hub.” [UPDATE, 11:52 a.m.: As luck would have it, Mel Exon has a great post today with much more on The Telegraph's newsroom.] This video (suggested by @gabosama on Twitter) was produced by the Innovation International Media Consulting Group:

The Spokesman Review’s “transparent newsroom” you see in this video is more conceptual than architectural. Readers can participate in webcasts of the Spokane paper’s daily news meetings, and editors regularly explain their decisions to the public.

Or at least that was the idea when this video was produced last spring, before the same economic perils facing the rest of the industry hit Spokane. A new round of job cuts in October prompted the resignation of editor Steven Smith (who features prominently in this video) and the elimination of many of the paper’s hallmarks of transparency. This video was also produced by Innovation Consulting:

Finally, when I asked for suggestions of newsroom tours on Twitter yesterday, my favorite response came from The Valley Independent Sentinel, a hyperlocal, online-only news startup in Connecticut that plans to launch this summer with a grant from the Knight Foundation. Their two-person operation won’t wow anyone — they don’t even have phones yet — but in many ways, it is more a newsroom of the future than any of those above:

If you liked any of these, check out the action at Chris O’Brien’s The Next Newsroom Project. And here’s a transcript of our TPM video:

Andrew Golis: This is our — we’ve been here about two or three months now. We’re in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York in our nice, little funky loft. [...]

This right here is our kind of — we call it The Pit. It’s basically our news desk, where we’re kind of constantly monitoring the latest breaking news. Our team of editorial news, news editorial staff and interns are churning out and aggregating news and video. That’s Ben Craw, who runs our video operation, and Justin, who runs our home page, and Lila, who runs TPM Cafe and a whole lot of other kind of special editorial features.

As you can see, we have kind of a system where lots of TiVos are rigged up to TVs recording the latest, the last couple of days of political news content, so that we can go back and grab it and mash it up or clip it and get it on the site, show it to readers. [...]

Once we get back into the — into doing more talking-head video stuff, we have our little mini kind of walk-in closet/studio. This will be, eventually we’ll get back into doing kin of Josh or a reporter explaining a story or doing an interview. And then sometime in the future, we’ll wire this up with fiber, so that if a reporter needs to get onto cable news to discuss a story that just broke, they can hop in here, jump onto the loop, and get onto TV. [...]

Reporters, breaking news, doing things like that. You know Diane. This is our little publishing pit. Josh and Millett, our owners and managers. And our little couch for relaxation.

Zach Seward: All right, well, thanks, Andrew.

Golis: Thanks for coming by.

POSTED     May 22, 2009, 9:59 a.m.
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