Everyone in newsroom and newspaper management should read and ponder the stories on the dramatic reorganization of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newsroom in Columbia Journalism Review and American Journalism Review.
As the articles illustrate, the AJC has embarked on the most sweeping reorganization of its news operation of any major newspaper that I'm aware of. Separating news-gathering from Web and print production, shrinking to four departments, delineating between "pitchers" and "catchers," letting photo editors run the news desk—it's radical, dogs-and-cats-living-together sort of stuff.
Traditionalists will think it's crazy talk, and indeed, I'm not sure everything they're doing is right. But at least they're doing something, breaking the mold and trying to reinvent the newsroom for a very different time, when resources are constricted like never before and online distribution is rivaling print for primacy. The AJC's "serve it while it's hot" attitude toward news, regardless of whether it's printed or put online, is fundamentally right (regardless of some predictable bitching from old-timers).
It's heady stuff, and it should be an example to every news organization that the old ways of doing things simply have to change. Bravo to Publisher John Mellott and Editor Julia Wallace for their vision and daring. With similarly innovative leaders like John Robinson at the Greensboro News-Record and the change agents at Gannett, the people who run the Journal-Constitution are breaking out of the pack to try to create news operations that will survive and thrive amid the upheaval that's going on in the newspaper business.
Also worth looking at: NYU professor Jay Rosen's very interesting Beatblogging experiment, attempting to supercharge beat reporters using some of the tools of social networks. I've written about the success of Washington Post baseball writer Barry Svrluga in doing something similar by publishing in print, online, in a blog, discussions and podcast--and using the resulting feedback, in turn, to shape his coverage. Rosen is trying to institutionalize this behavior. Every newsroom should have multiple efforts going on along these lines.