Abe Epton reflects on his move from Google News to the Chicago Tribune on the News Apps blog. After five years at Google News, he’s been the Chicago Tribune for just over a month.
I wanted to think about the things that strike me about my new, old-media gig and why I think people interested in code and civic society should really think about joining a newspaper — yes, a newspaper (or any media outlet) — in 2013.
To begin with, the newsroom is one of the most connected places I’ve ever seen. Information flows through it constantly, via phones and police scanners and loud clackety-noise-making machines of indeterminate purpose (not the nearby typewriter), as well as the ubiquitous Tweetdeck and Chartbeat screens. We have our morning meetings on a television stage elevated in the middle of the room.
But it’s the informal networks, the overheard chats among reporters and editors and the one-way conversations with sources, that provide a unique and fascinating education on how stories are put together and what’s going on in the city.
There’s an obsession with data here as extreme as any I witnessed at Google, but the relationship reporters have with stats is complex. Visible everywhere in the newsroom, and even during the meetings that decide what makes the front page every day, there’s a constantly-updating Chartbeat readout of that second’s top-performing stories.