Staffing in the New News Organization

Posted on 17. Aug, 2009 by in New News Organization

As a news business that performs several functions — metro-wide coverage, community training, business-to-business services — the New News Organization will have a small, but diversified staff of 40 in its first year, ramping up to 54 in its third year. Each staffer will gross an average salary of $78,000 a year, including a 25% benefit charge, for a total salary cost of $97,500 per employee.

Out of the 40-person staff for year one, 26 are editorial and the other 14 are sales, administration and development. Below is a breakdown of the NNO’s first-year staff. (Click here to view the NNO model as a Google Document. Be sure to click on the Staffing tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet to view all figures related to this post.)

Full first-year editorial staff:

  • 1 top editor
  • 5 other editorial staffers & fact-checkers
  • 20 journalists (community managers/curators/beat reporters)

Editorial breakdown by beat/area of coverage:

  • Police, Crime & Accidents (5 beat reporters and 1 community manager/curator, with the help of local bloggers, citizen journalists, databases and witnesses)
  • Local Government (4 beat reporters and 1 community manager/curator, with the help of local bloggers and citizen journalists)
  • Education (1 beat reporter and 1 community manager/curator, with the help of local bloggers, citizen journalists and local experts)
  • Business (2 beat reporters and 1 community manager/curator, with the help of local experts and databases)
  • Sports (1 community manager/curator, with the help of local bloggers, experts, databases and syndication agreement with national outlets)
  • Local Entertainment (1 community manager/curator, with the help of local bloggers, and databases)
  • National & International News (overseen by a top editor, 1 news aggregator, with the help of experts and syndication)
  • Weather & Traffic (1 community manager/curator, with the help of databases/syndication and citizen journalists)

We expect the editorial staff to grow by 7 in the second year and 7 again in the third year, as advertising and other revenue grows. The NNO will also be able to grow its staff by cutting back on some particular costs, i.e. seeking office space in a low-rent market, requiring editorial staffers to use their own laptops (we’re not advocating either of these, just exploring possibilities.)

Full first-year sales, admin and development staff:

  • 1 sales & marketing director
  • 5 other sales staffers
  • 4 payroll/tech support/other admin
  • 1 search engine optimizer
  • 2 developers

Download the NNO Excel file here.

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8 Responses to “Staffing in the New News Organization”

  1. Steve Buttry

    17. Aug, 2009

    I am interested to see five references to databases as supplementing (“with the help of …) work by staff members. And I would suggest that databases should also be added to local government and education. But I can’t find a mention of a staff person to compile, present and manage the databases. Unless one of the 5 “other editorial staffers” is a database specialist (and one might not be enough), your reporters/community managers won’t work “with the help of” databases.

    Databases don’t suddenly appear by magic. Skilled journalists acquire the data (often after fighting/negotiating with public officials who don’t respect public-records laws), clean up the data, analyze the data to spot trends and story possibilities, determine the best ways to present data to make it useful for the public and then work with sophisticated tools to present interactive databases.

    This plan requires at least one journalist skilled in analyzing data and developing interactive databases.

  2. Damian Ghigliotty

    17. Aug, 2009


    You are right that databases don’t run themselves.

    Our NNO model assumes that the organization’s developers will function as database managers under supervision from the editorial staff. (How many staffers exactly depends on circumstances that can’t be plugged into a spreadsheet.)

    The research we’ve done for each model assumes that everyone will perform his/her job at maximum capacity. See Matt’s post on talking fantasy newsroom:

    We’ve avoided getting too granular with some of these figures, as they are likely to change depending on how a real-life NNO is run.

  3. Steve Buttry

    18. Aug, 2009

    Thanks for the explanation, Damian. I think you’ve described (and will want and need) more databases here than two developers will be able to handle, along with all the other development duties. You will either need one or more database specialists or reporters who are more adept with databases than most reporters are (and reporters will have a heavy workload in this model).

  4. Damian Ghigliotty

    18. Aug, 2009

    You’re welcome, Steve. On a personal note, I agree.

    Some of the more interesting moments we had while working on this project were the occasional disagreements between those (more often the journalists) who wanted to grow the editorial staff and those (more often the business strategists/analysts) who wanted to slim it down. These numbers were the result of several conversations on how the NNO should operate.

  5. Steve Buttry

    18. Aug, 2009

    Well, if you had those disagreements, you were injecting an important element of reality into the models.

  6. Dan Gainor

    28. Aug, 2009

    Clearly, not enough tech support staff. If everything’s on the Web, you need more tech support.

    • Jeff Jarvis

      05. Sep, 2009

      But Dan what if you are using others’ platforms? Why be in the tech business if you don’t have to? Or be in as little as possible, no?


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