UMich students reflect on newsrooms in transition

When the University of Michigan’s Environ 320 class visited the Detroit News and Channel 4 WDIV on Friday, the newsrooms were in transition. If you were on that field trip, what surprised you? What lessons did you draw? What will you remember most?




About emiliaaskari

Journalist, teacher, news game designer. Promoting digital literacy and content creation in the public interest.

7 Responses to “UMich students reflect on newsrooms in transition”

  1. Timeliness is an important characteristic of a news story. I didn’t realize just how ready-to-go the news crews have to be, though. Sarah Mayberry, M.P.H., the Local 4 Health producer at WDIV, said that she once had about a two-hour window of time to interview someone in Ann Arbor – an hour’s drive away. In that case, as in other interviews, being flexible is important. You have to work with your interview subject and your team to make the story happen. Perseverance is also fundamental to getting a story – like when Sarah waited outside Whole Foods to interview moms about their concern about norovirus.
    In the Detroit News meeting, I was happy to see a lot of multimedia. The team even decided to feature one story over another because it had more interesting photos. Adding picture elements to a story can increase the complexity of a piece. Good writing is still important, but the photos engage the reader in a different way. Since the journalist doesn’t have to take you there with his/her words, he or she has more freedom with their word space to explore other facets of the story.

  2. During the last Friday trip, the most suprise thing I got is about the weather boardcaster. It suprising me that when boardcaster talk about the weather to people,they could not see any animation or graph on the borard. They even only can see the scale about the geographics on the side board. The board we see on Television that filled with animation and graph is only a green plain board for boardcaster. This is really challenge fo them. They could not make mistakes like pointing wrong place and wrong stuff. Also, the big camera that operated by computer seems amazing. People do not need to anipulate the camera around by themselves, just use computer to control them. For the news room, this is my first exprience in my life that attending a news meeting. I think each person is dedicated and responsible for his or her parts. It is like each person get a story for a field of news, such as health, business, sports. They will share their most like story to all people and decide whether this will work for today’s news story. Sometimes, they will have argument for whether a story to be or not to be. The two experience from local 4 and news meeting earn me a lot.

  3. The part that surprising me most is about weather board caster could not see anything, when they broadcast weather news to public.The only may and graph they use for pointing is just a green plain board, without any information and map on it. The only related information they could use is there are two side boards of scaling map that for board-casting. This raises challenge for broadcaster of weather, so broadcaster should be very very familiar to the geography and typography and any weather related knowledge. They can not make any mistakes like pointing wrong places or pointing wrong stuff. Second, the all computer manipulated cameras seem amazing for me. No person need to move the camera, all of needed angle , location for camera are recorded by computer, and manipulate by computer.The only person is to operate the computer for cameras.
    For the meeting story, this is my first experience of attend a meeting for news story. It seems that each person comes up with some selected news story for his or her covered field, such as business, health, sport and so on. Each person will talk about each story to all people on meeting, and get a determination whether this story will be used as today’s news story or not.Sometimes, they will have debate and argument, because some people likes this story, but others don’t like it. I also got the feeling of their dedication for their job.

  4. I was most surprised by the differences between the building where the Detroit News is done, and where Channel 4 News is. It was clear that the Channel 4 News area was meant to be seen by the public. They had art on the walls and throughout the walkways, it was clean, and the furniture was up to date. It looked TV ready in a way. On the other hand, the building where the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press is was run-down, outdated, and had no art on the walls (I know part of this was due to the fact that they were moving, but it seemed to me like they had never embraced the look of their building). The Detroit News doesn’t have to worry about their image though, because they are a newspaper, and the public rarely sees the inside of the building, where on at Channel 4, they have guests come to be on the news, often times the building is in shots that will be seen on television, and they have more of an image to protect.

  5. I was surprised by the causal dress of those we saw working at both Channel 4 and the Detroit News. I was expecting to see more business-casual attire than jeans. However after learning more, especially when Sarah discussed the day-to-day of her job at WDIV, I understand that it’s important to be comfortable and able to move quickly, because she or the reporters may have to run out on assignment without much notice.

    One thing I would like to know more about is the pitch process at the Detroit News. While observing the paper’s morning meeting, most of the stories seemed to be written, except sports and other events that were happening over the weekend. It seemed that the editors were primarily deciding which finished or nearly finished stories would run on which day. I would have liked to see more of the idea pitches, to understand how reporters find a story that has not been written before.

  6. I was surprised that Detroit News and Free Press are moving from their historic albert kahn designed building. The Free Press and News are moving to a new office at the Federal Reserve Building while Molina Health will be moving into the former home of the Free Press and News. After doing some research, it turns out that Dan Gilbert bought the current Detroit Free Press and News Office, the one we toured, in june of this year. Dan Gilbert also owns the new home of the Free Press and News, the Federal Reserve Building. So who wins in this real estate adaption of musical chairs if Dan Gilbert is controlling the music?

    In order to answer that question we would need to know if the Free Press and News decided to move locations based upon their own volition or if they were unable to continue a lease of the building from an economic standpoint.
    It would also be helpful to know the terms of both Molina Healths lease and the Free Press/ News lease.
    Finally we would need to know who owned the home of the Free/Press news before Gilbert bought in june.

    Without getting into the nitty gritty finances of the transition, I would hope that Dan Gilbert lost in the deal. This by no means indicates an aversion to Mr. Gilbert, who is a real life Tony Stark (Iron Man?) and a savior of the city. However as a savior, his job is to foster economic growth in the city, which means offering very competitive rates, if not below market value, on the properties he leases. Gilbert needs to make economic sacrifices in strategic markets. If Gilbert is making a ton of money through his real estate ventures then the city will not naturally grow and prosper, but instead be artificially sustained in the hands of one man.

  7. Today is the last one that the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press will be in the building we visited a week ago. Remember the Detroit News columnist we saw on our way out? That was Neal Rubin, and he’s prepared this tribute to the building and its history:

    In it, he answers some of your questions about the financial motivation for the move. The new quarters are much smaller, cheaper to heat and retrofitted to be more tech-friendly.

    I’m so glad that we had the chance to visit the old building at this moment of transition.

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