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  • Culture Cube: Newsroom Incubator program

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  • The Newsroom Incubator
    The program helps newspapers restructure their organizations, content and the presentation of their products with a redesign.
    Who can receive the program?
    Any GateHouse Media publication. Dailies, weeklies, special sections, magazines, TMCs and shoppers are all eligible.
    How does the program work?
    A publisher or editor at the publication contacts the News & Interactive Division (bdennison@gatehousemedia.com). We’ll learn about your project and your newspaper through conference calls and a possible site visit and discuss a timeline for your project. We’ll learn about your community, demographics, goals, staff, news-gathering methods and structure. Conversation on those topics will help drive the focus of your redesign.
    What’s the process of the redesign?
    After initial conversations on the above items, we’ll work with your staff to develop a content plan. The content plan establishes what content will appear on specific templates for your newspaper.
    How does a newspaper’s content change through this process?
    Newsrooms receive training in areas such as planning, new story formats and breakout boxes as part of the program, all of which have a big part in the development of the content plan. For example, many newspapers select specific alternative story formats featured in their content plan that will appear on their templates after receiving the training.
    How do Web Cube and News Cube strategies fit into the content plan and redesign?
    In addition to evaluating production processes and content, the incubator program is a great opportunity to address how a newsroom is meeting GateHouse content strategies. As part of content planning, we may help put into place Web content differentiation promotions, reader callouts and Community Partner Journalism and Public Service Journalism alternative story formats.
    Does the nameplate change?
    As part of the process, newspapers decide if they want to make adjustments to their nameplate. If they choose to change, each paper is provided several typography choices to pick from. The newspaper selects examples of what they like, and their nameplate is customized.
    Do we get prototypes?
    Yes. For every template that you currently have, you will receive a prototype, based on the content plan that’s established.
    What kind of technical support do we receive?
    The News & Interactive Division handles all heavy lifting through the process, including building all templates and delivering and helping install fonts.
    Are there marketing promotions?
    Yes. Each newspaper will receive promotions to run in advance letting readers know about the change.
    Is there design training?
    Each newspaper receives a design training guide, along with a design training session, through a webinar. There is design training also available after the launch.
    Page 2 of 3 - How much notice do we have to give?
    The process takes about three months to execute, so let the News & Interactive Division know as soon as possible so that we can work your newspaper into our schedule.
    What kind of followup is there?
    With the resources and time News & Interactive commits to each project, we are extremely interested in its ultimate success. We are available at any time for support after launch, but we also take a proactive role in many cases to help the newsroom ensure it is meeting the agreed-upon content plan and the design that it was based on. To that end, in many cases we may schedule follow-up calls and webinars until we and the newsroom believe the project is a complete success.
    How many newspapers have gone through the incubator program?
    During the past four years, nearly 100 GateHouse Media newspapers — of all sizes — have participated.
    1. Nameplate
    Can be redesigned to suit the goals of the publication to offer a fresh look to match the new design, or it can be left alone to maintain a historic brand.
    2. Skyboxes
    Designed for maximum impact in minimum space, these promotions tout great stories that didn’t make it to the front page.
    3. Headline hierarchy
    New fonts and style sheets are built into each page template, allowing for greater headline hierarchy.
    4. Today’s Smile
    This and other similar rail items are a great way to get local names and faces prominently in the paper each day.
    5. Web polls
    This graphic is easy to produce on the page, creating a great way to engage with readers in print and online.
    6. Alternative story formats (ASFs)
    New ways to tell and present stories are included in templates, such as this Q&A format.
    7. Breakout boxes
    Used extensively throughout our redesigned papers, breakouts give readers easy-to-digest information and offer additional entry points into stories.
    1. Reader callouts
    Editable promotions created by GateHouse News Service designers, these get readers motivated to submit content to the newspaper for publication in print and online.
    2. First in Print
    This initiative can be built into page templates, telling subscribers and impulse readers what they can only read in that day’s print edition.
    3. Community partner journalism
    Packages such as this Meet Your Neighbor centerpiece are intended to be written by members of community and local agencies and organizations. Part of GateHouse’s News Cube initiative.
    4. Reader photos
    People love seeing pictures of themselves and their loved ones in the newspaper. This feature anchors those photos in the paper each day.
    Page 3 of 3 - 5. Top stories online
    This is a promotion to the most popular content on the newspaper’s website, which helps drive more traffic to the site.
    1. 5 Things We Want to See Happen
    This ASF is a highly visual package that can be thought of as five mini editorials about community issues, from pot holes and high school sports to school board issues and council votes.
    2. Public service journalism
    Exactly as it sounds, this feature takes a close look at an issue, gives readers the status and updates them on the last issues covered in this feature. Readers also are asked to submit topics for greater participation.
    3. Shorter columns
    With the ever-shrinking newspaper page, shorter columns are encouraged to allow for multiple viewpoints on what’s normally considered a gray opinion page.
    4. Letters to the Editor
    Arguably the original way for readers to interact with newspaper, this feature still has an important place on opinion pages.
    Other content
    This page shows a couple of new content items that could be included on an Opinion page, such as the Public Service Journalism What’s Your Problem ASF and the 5 Things We Want to See Happen ASF. The page could also include other PSJs in rotation, a people on the street quotes package or a weekly Web poll results graphic.
    1. 5 Must-See Events This Week
    Think of this as a calendar on steroids. This feature prominently tells readers when and where they can watch a big event.
    2. Headline hierarchy
    Like the front page, fonts and style sheets are built into the template, allowing for greater headline hierarchy.
    3. Reader callouts
    These can be built into the skybox, rail or other places on the sports front to motivate readers to submit photos of their son or daughter.
    4. Community partner journalism
    Like the Meet Your Neighbor package on the Your News page, this athlete profile is part of the News Cube program and is meant to be provided by someone such as a coach.
    5. Breakout boxes
    Sports stories are naturally rife with stats, game times and quotes. They give readers easy-to-digest information and offer additional entry points into stories.

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