No, you don’t need a physical ‘newsroom’

You know I am very interested in the way the Web is changing the workplace, in many instances eliminating the need for having a physical office.
Michael Rosenblum appears to feel the same way about it:

Two years ago, we began a very interesting experiment with a major cable provider.
We built and ran (and continue to run) a hyper-local TV station which is probably the most cost-effective in the country. It’s a model for others.
Now, after two years, we are going to start our second one.
When we sat down to do the budgets, the first thing we cut out was the office.
We had an office for the first station, but realized after a year, no one went there. There was no need for it.
All of our video journalists work from the field, cut on their own laptops, and set their own schedules. Coming into an office every day would only eat into their reporting time and serve no purpose. Not to mention the vast cost of a physical office – the building, the desks, the carpet, the lights. All unnecessary.
So when we set out to design our second station, we eliminated the building and the office entirely.
Don’t need it.
Don’t want it.
I raised this concept recently at a media conference held at CUNY in New York, chaired by Jeff Jarvis.
Many journalists on my panel were upset at the concept. “You need a newsroom” they opined.
No, I don’t think you do….

Then he goes on about NBC having an unnecessary (and expensive) building and Facebook not having one and Kevin Gamble adds that perhaps NSF does not need a building any more as well.
I thought there actually was a Facebook building in Palo Alto, is there? Perhaps just an office within a building. But when Robert Scoble visits Facebook and blogs about it, I don’t think he has a beer with the guys at a bar – he visits a discrete space, something with floors and doors and furniture. Otherwise, I support the sentiment 100%.

4 responses to “No, you don’t need a physical ‘newsroom’

  1. Kevin Gamble

    I’ve actually been to the Faceboik offices. They are cramped and austere. It’s interesting to contrast the FB offices with Yahoo’s. Um guessing Yahoo wishes they didn’t have those buildings now.

  2. I think you do lose something when there’s not a central office. Just having others to easily bounce ideas off of, or to ask opinions of makes a difference. Someone might mention an angle about a story that the reporter would not have considered by herself. It’s a great way for new reporters to learn from more experienced reporters. Despite big business’s attitude about constantly cutting the expenses to prop up the bottom line, having people work in silos to get their stories may not be the best way to save money.

  3. They can meet at a bar once a week to bounce ideas….

  4. Interesting piece, this. The lack of regular physical contact in a specific place HAS to dilute sense of community, it would seem; but perhaps that matches the need to have the journalists’ first community be the outside one.
    Lots of experiments going on, interesting to see how they unfold.