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Retreat Ideas for Your Newsroom

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A photo of a man inside a newsroom

You'll be a more effective newsroom manager if you choose the right retreat ideas to discuss when you conduct a newsroom retreat.

Photo © DreamPictures / Getty Images
Retreat ideas for your newsroom are probably limitless. Once you've decided that you need to hold a news retreat, you should focus your retreat ideas on a few wide topics while obeying the retreat do's and don'ts. This will help you decide how to best spend your retreat time hashing out details with the key staff members you've invited.

Retreat Ideas: Technology

Technology has probably changed your newsroom more in the past five years than in the two decades prior. Sure, you've probably had newsroom computers for years, but now there are so many other devices that can help you get information to your customers faster than ever before.

A newsroom retreat provides the perfect opportunity to evaluate your tools and how you use them. Ask your group about how you're using Facebook. Is your newsroom considering Facebook just a sideline part of your operation, like a hobby? Decide whether it, as well as Twitter, are being underused and keeping you from reaching your audience effectively.

Technology can also streamline the newsgathering process within your newsroom. Look at how reporters gather information and get it back to the newsroom. These days, cellphones can easily get photos and videos to the newsroom quicker, which can then be posted to a web site while the reporter is still in the field getting the story.

That means a story on a fire can start being published on the web moments after your news crew arrives on the scene, if you provide the correct tools. Get your retreat group to review whether your newsroom is still waiting hours for the full news story to be completed before presenting it to your customers, and whether that's putting you at a competitive risk.

Retreat Ideas: Staffing

The technological advancements will likely lead your retreat group into discussions about staffing. If you haven't re-evaluated your newsroom staffing needs in recent years, you probably have people who should be shifted to other positions.

In a television newsroom, you may have had someone dedicated to recording video of news stories coming in through satellite. You may find that a news producer can now handle that work load, which is probably shrinking as more video is gathered through computer FTP.

An assignment editor, whose job it is to monitor incoming news and dispatch news crews, could easily oversee whether your social media tools are keeping up with breaking news. Your group might even decide you need to hire a social media specialist to make sure your customers stay informed while they're on the go, through various mobile apps.

Retreat Ideas: Branding

All these changes should lead to a re-examination of your branding and marketing efforts. Have your group talk about whether your audience sees your news product as cutting-edge, or whether you are perceived to be stuck in a stale and forgotten era.

Conduct a quick report-card session by seeing whether your newsroom has committed any of the 10 media mistakes that could damage your brand. Then look at brand management tips to help you shift your brand position.

These are valuable exercises. If you work for a newspaper, your audience may still perceive your product as being cold and institutional, like a bank. It would be wise to showcase your online media offerings, your friendly and approachable columnists and your colorful front page as a way to prove that your paper has changed with the times.

By crafting your retreat around these three broad topics, you'll find they intertwine. They provide a good springboard to launch retreat ideas that are custom tailored to your specific issues in your own newsroom.

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