Open Editorial Meetings

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Newsrooms around the country are experimenting with how assignment desks can connect directly with viewers and readers.

Examples, video excerpts and interviews at the article above.


Background interview:

AL TOMPKINS: Why is KPIX telling the world what you are working on? Don't you worry that your competition will just pick off your stories?

BRIAN DINSMORE: I was a bit leery of "tipping our hand" when I started doing this. But I think the benefit outweighs any tip-off. On most days, we and the competition are working on many of the same stories. Our news-gathering day is under way by the time I do the briefing, so if another station wants to chase a story based on the briefing, it's fine with us. We don't think they'll do as good a job, especially with a late start, and we like the idea of setting their news agenda!

If there is something really exclusive to us, like Hank Plante's one-on-one interview with Gavin Newsom Wednesday, I'm obviously not going to promote that in the briefing. But when the story comes through, we are trying to break the news on

Basically, though, we want to offer our users a window into our newsroom, to give them a feel for how we work, what it looks like, perhaps why we chose to assign a particular story and some of the debate surrounding that decision. The briefing is not scripted. I talk about our rundown of stories in real time, as I am briefing my colleagues on the desk. I think the interest this window can generate in our newsroom and newscasts will far outweigh any danger posed by giving the competition a heads up.

Is there stuff you won't disclose in the briefing? What about those stories that you are just checking out but don't know if they are true yet?

If it's a hot story that we have the exclusive on, I'll leave it out of the briefing. I don't get into the fine details of every vo (voice over) and vosot (voice over sound on tape) we are chasing, unless I think there will be some interest in how we are trying to get it. For instance, if we are doing an aerial tour of the snowy mountains here in sunny California, I might mention it. I think that has some interest.

Since the briefing is in real-time, there will probably be stories that won't check out and might not make air. That's OK. It's all part of the process. It's a snapshot of our current plan, but plans change. As my news director puts it: "It's organic."

What has the public reaction been to this video?

From what I've heard, most people think it's pretty cool. I haven't been doing it long, but so far it's only positive. And it seems to be getting a bit of attention.

What manpower and equipment is involved in making this happen?

It's one of the great things about this. Our ops manager, Don Sharp, mounted a camera to the desk, and we wired it to our ENG control room. It's like a mini flash cam. I clip on a wireless mic, and we are ready to go. During breaking news, we can flip the camera on and do live streaming of the newsdesk at work. It will be unscripted and total reality TV! The setup is user-friendly.

What have you learned from doing this that you wish you had known before you started?

I like doing it more than I thought I would. I talk too fast. I need to stand up straight! People like finding out how we do things, and I think they like our window on the newsroom." (