Recently ki work introduced a team-building function. In this post I'm looking at the way it could be used by colleagues in my former industry.
Newspapers are suffering from the current economic crisis every bit as much as banks, car plants and construction. Already hit by falling circulation, declining advertising revenue and crippling debt the credit crunch could be the fatal blow for many publishing groups.
But newspapers won't begin to close until there's been a massive amount of cost cutting. Skilled journalistic jobs are being lost in increasing numbers, but the way managements are going about saving money is certainly not good for quality and may not even be cost effective. To understand the challenge and how ki work could help requires a basic knowledge of newspaper production works
A simple introduction to newspaper editorial production
When most people pick up a newspaper they probably neither know nor particularly care how it was put together. It's a complex process and one where by-lined journalists may play less part than you might think.
Named writers are only one of the many sources of content that are brought together to create a newspaper and nowadays its associated website. There'll be classified and display advertisements; copy from agencies such as Reuters; press releases and photographs from a variety of sources. All this material has to be brought together to create a coherent product ready for printing or the web.
Although job titles do vary from newspaper to newspaper and from country to country the basic organization remains the same. Headed by an overall editor and editors who are responsible for sections, teams of specialists called 'sub-editors' in the UK and 'copy editors' in the US, polish and pull together material to create a coherent whole.
Copy editors or sub-editors will generally be responsible for: fact checking; writing headlines and picture captions; ensuring text complies with the house style of the paper and pointing out possible legal issues. Most importantly they'll improve copy from reporters who may be great at getting stories, but aren't so good at writing them. And editing also means cutting what may be thousands of words from different sources to fit the hundreds of words of finite space on a newspaper page.
Conventional outsourcing is less than perfect
Despite the skill involved , editorial production is a candidate for outsourcing. Reporters aren't. Even though they may work mostly on the phone, reporters still need to meet contacts and go to press conferences. Production journalists work at a desk and theoretically that could be anywhere, even Australia or India.
London's Daily Telegraph has already outsourced production of its travel pages to Fairfax in Australia. Other groups are centralising their production so that one “subbing factory” provides services for all the newspapers.
Of course journalists aren't happy about these developments. They point out that editing really requires local and specialist knowledge. It's easy to make howlers and miss nuances even if the grammar and spelling are technically correct.
Outsourcing this way doesn't optimise savings for newspaper companies either. It's always possible to find somewhere with lower rates of pay. Conventional outsourcing uses an intermediary who needs to make a profit and cover the cost of premises, communications technology and staff. A rule of thumb is that salaries will only account for half the charges.
Virtual outsourcing is better all round
The alternative is “virtual outsourcing” which in this case is essentially a high-falutin' way of describing newspaper production experts working from home. Their costs are negligible because they probably already have the essential tools of the trade, a computer and an internet connection. They could even save money because they won't have to travel to work.
Until recently the problem was that the benefits and savings from virtual outsourcing were generally theoretical. If individuals have to be hired and managed centrally the savings from having them working from home will be minimised.
The ki work alternative is to create self-organised teams, initially quite probably composed of people who have already worked together. Later it could develop to bring in others that team members have met offline or online. Teams are intended to be agile, fluid and flexible so they can involve the most appropriate professionals to complete a project.
In my next posting I'll look in more detail how a team can be set up in ki work to bid for the production of newspaper sections. This is only one application of ki work's team building function click here to find out more.