From the editor: This newsroom has all the tools we need

06/04/2013 6:57 PM

09/28/2014 1:41 AM

Not too long ago, the tools of our trade were simple: a pen, notepad, camera and a telephone. Stories had only one destination: the newspaper. The only variable was which edition — morning, late afternoon or the twice-a-week Neighbors section.

Now we operate in a turbo-charged news cycle that is measured in minutes, sometimes seconds. We provide news and information throughout the day through social media, email, our website, smart phones and electronic readers — all before the newspaper comes together at night.

This new kind of journalism requires a new kind of newsroom. Our move to Doral presented us with a rare opportunity to create a modern newsroom for the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Our goal was to create a physical space built to produce news and information with accuracy and speed, regardless of the delivery method.

We spent months carefully planning the space, convening a work group from both newsrooms that represented every discipline — from reporters and photographers to copy editors and online producers. We looked at other cutting-edge newsrooms as well as technology companies. We even drew inspiration from our neighbor, the U.S. Southern Command, whose former home we now occupy.

The result is a state-of-the-art newsroom, anchored by the heart of the news operation, the Continuous News Desk (CND). It faces an expansive, two-sided arc of monitors, a media wall that allows us to keep up with news around the world, monitor competitors, track our social media users and gauge our own performance in the digital space.

Think of it as an air traffic control center for information. Key decision makers sit at the CND, reacting to breaking news, managing our digital outlets and social media — and planning the newspaper.

This is where news flows in and is then disseminated, be it by tweet, Facebook, digital news flash or an in-depth story in the newspaper. The video, photo and radio studios with our partners at WLRN are located directly behind the CND so that information can move quickly to video and radio.

As we worked on the design, we kept in mind the life cycle of news today. A breaking story usually starts with a sentence posted to our Twitter account, then a few sentences on our Web, mobile sites and Facebook. On major events, we send out an email alert or text message.

As reporters and photographers learn and confirm new details, editors and producers at the CND post pictures, update the online story throughout the day and disseminate the information on social media.

As we discuss stories and angles for the next day’s newspaper, what begins as a spare set of facts — a deadly crash, for instance, on I-95 — morphs into a full exploration of what happened, how it happened, why it happened and how a similar tragedy might be prevented in the future.

Our core mission remains the same: to inform and engage our readers, to set the debate, to celebrate this community and to shed light. What we do is vital. That’s been imbedded in the Miami Herald Media Company’s history.

The tools may change but the essence of what we do will not. We’ll keep bringing you the news, whether you read it on that little device in the palm of your hand or some other gadget that we have yet to imagine.

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