The Globe moves ahead with restructured beats

As the staff prepares to move to its new headquarters on State Street, The Boston Globe is rolling out its new beat structure. Here’s a list of what many of the reporters, editors and columnists are up to.

It doesn’t strike me as hugely different from what the Globe was doing before (and that’s a good thing), but it is built more around the idea of clusters that cover different topics, such as “Business, Technology, and Consumers.” Others: “Education,” “Healthcare, Science, and Medicine,” “Living and Working in Greater Boston,” “Arts and Books,” and “Politics, Government, and Accountability.”

In keeping with editor Brian McGrory’s reinvention memos, the beats comprise areas of interest rather than institutions that need to be covered, whether anyone wants to read about them or not. There’s also a greater emphasis on publishing stories online when they’re ready rather than waiting for the print edition. According to a memo from McGrory, last week — the first for the restructured beats — was a good one for digital subscriptions.

Some kind soul sent me a copy of McGrory’s memo, sent out late Friday afternoon. (The “Super Department,” by the way, combines much of the paper’s metro, business and lifestyle coverage.) Here’s the full text:

So to be clear, nobody should be ready to declare victory after our first full week of reinvention. We all know there are many wrinkles to iron out, and we’re already identifying changes that need to be changed.

But, damn, I’m having a tough time containing my enthusiasm over how well it’s gone and the massive potential that it holds. The truth is, I’m more excited about it now than at any time before.

It’s worth noting that we started from a dead stop. There was no lineup of clever stories ready to roll out. Spotlight didn’t have anything on the runway. Reporters hadn’t been quietly prepping on their new beats. No, 10 days ago, just after a long holiday weekend, we launched from scratch — with, by my count, at least 87 people in substantially different positions than they held the week before.

What’s happened? The metabolism has quickened considerably. People are here earlier in the day. Our higher profile enterprise stories are receiving a final edit through the day, and introduced online at peak readership times. There are fewer logjams in the evening — reporters waiting for that last read on a story. Copy-edits are happening far more frequently across the day.

Because we’re factoring in the needs of digital more effectively, the print front is holding fewer stories back, which means we’re popping more enterprise on the site, much of which is rippling back to the Business and Metro fronts in print. The paper, as we hoped, has been the stronger for it. Calls for A1 and the Metro and Business print fronts are getting made sooner, allowing us to better plan for the next day’s site.

All of which is to say that things, in general, are going as planned — not always, but often enough. And Pete Doucette [the Globe’s chief consumer revenue officer] says it’s the best week we’ve had for digital subscriptions in a while.

In many ways, there’s something of a symphonic quality to it all. It starts early in the morning when the Express Desk arrives and begins posting newsy and clever stories. They hold a stand-up meeting in the middle of the newsroom at 8:30, swapping ideas and mapping out the rest of the day. Then we bring in the enterprise work, pitched and scheduled at the 9:15 news meeting, which already has a newly creative tone. Beyond that, the strike team, narrative, and Spotlight will soon be adding to the mix. Beat reporters across the Super Department will be quickly gaining authority in what, for many, are new areas. Of course, sports, DC, arts, travel, and the magazine are as vital as ever. It’s a matter of time — and not a lot of it — until the full band, every aspect, is playing to its potential.

There’s much credit to go around for great stories, smart edits, beautiful photography, brilliant designs, inviting graphics, expert planning — really, too much to include here. Please know that I’m grateful beyond words. I’d like to say take the summer off, given how utterly draining this has all been, but, well, you wouldn’t want that anyway. Right?

My sincere thanks to everyone for so much hard and excellent work.

Brian

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