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Newsroom culture of excellence, foundational document No. 3: What do you expect?

The York Daily Record/Sunday News’ Core Operating Competencies are designed to help new journalists in our newsroom understand our culture. They also serve as a brush-up for veteran journalists. See three other panels that make up these competencies below.

I still remember the conversation in the early 1990s.

The York Daily Record had missed deadline, and the editor responsible for our late press start tried this one: Well, at his last newspaper, they¬† just had to be “close” to deadline.

I explained that at the YDR, we make deadlines, unless the press of late-breaking news makes us late. But even at that, our history is that we don’t get such stories more than a two times a month, if that.

That caused some of us to think that we needed to put down what is expected on an operating level, on a daily basis in our newsroom.

So those Core Operating Competencies are what you see above and below.

We revised these expectations scores of times over the year, particularly as we’ve added our stories and photos on digital delivery platforms.

But here’s the interesting point: Though the platforms have expanded, the high standards for journalism have not. We still assess the quality of our captions, headlines and accuracy. Most of the journalism that applies to newspapers dovetails with the web. Digital delivery – the web, mobile, tablet – does not mean lower standards of journalism.

As for deadlines, well, I wonder how that young copy editor, now a grizzled veteran laboring elsewhere, is adapting to hundreds of deadlines a day.

For in the digital world, the deadline is no longer once at day at 12:30 a.m. It’s hundreds of times a day following this view: “When we know it, you know it.

That doesn’t leave any room to be “close.”


Also of interest:

Find first two newsroom documents on the Foundational Documents page.