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Universal desk problems

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WordMP, Sep 26, 2007.

  1. WordMP

    WordMP New Member

    Anyone have experience working with a universal desk that can offer some advice on how to deal with one that is not working well? The lack of expertise is evident most days, including in our layout. We are at a midsized paper and have worked under this new copy flow design for about a year.
  2. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    Why don't you ask Dean Singleton to explain it. He's the only one who thinks it works. Nobody with any newspaper experience thinks it works.
  3. thegrifter

    thegrifter Member

    and yet, so many of us are stuck with it!
  4. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    I use a house metaphor to illustrate the problems with universal desks.

    A group of 15 people with knowledge of construction can build a house.
    But the better house will be built by a crew of experts - plumbers doing plumbing, electricians doing the wiring, framers doing the construction, etc.
    They are specialists in what they do and it shows in the details. They know what problems to anticipate and know where to go for solutions.
  5. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    A very good example. We find that out almost nightly when newssiders come over to help out our depleted desk and they slow us down more than help us.
  6. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Oh boy do I have some universal desk stories. We were ready to go through it, but for the last few weeks, it's been nothing but a couple news guys doing the front for us every few days.

    They wanted us to do the weather page a few times. I did it one night, another guy did it another and then one night, they asked us again to do it. Two hours before deadline, we had not started any of our pages, and all four of us in the office that night were still writing after covering events. I walked over to the news desk and told them we could not do weather.

    They haven't asked us to do anything again. Universal desk is an excuse to turn the sports desk into the news desk's bitch. Stand up now before the shit hits the fan. Bottom line is, very few people truly understand how the sports desk works. they see things slow down in the summer, and that's when they get these great fucking ideas. Funny how none of the news folks will want to do a boxscore, do the agate page or compile the MLB roundup.
  7. Ira_Schoffel

    Ira_Schoffel Member

    Been through it once, and it was an unmitigated disaster. Seen if fail elsewhere as well.

    The house analogy was perfect. Just a total cluster**** that leaves everyone poorer for it -- writers, editors and readers.
  8. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Just count the number of times a news-side copy editor has come over to you and started a question with, "Now, I don't know anything about sports, but..."
  9. MGoBlue

    MGoBlue Member

    You should try on the other shoe, when sports people come over the newsdesk and don't know the House of Reps from the Senate, what proper attributions are in crime stories and don't know a world leader outside of Bush.

    Works both ways, boys and girls.

    But that house analogy was excellent. Can't argue with it.

    But as this biz progresses (or digresses, as the cases may be), you better be able to do it all or you will be left behind. The days of specialization are coming to an end.
  10. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    If anything, the opposite is true.
  11. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Generalizations here, folks. They're not 100 percent true, but they are based on my time in the biz.

    Sports folks are more likely to be well-rounded. Yes, we sometimes listen to the 6 p.m. news outside of the two-minute sportscast. That stuff about the House of Representatives, the Senate, the car crashes, everything, we hear about it.

    The news folks usually stick to their little fiefdoms. If you had a cops reporter and needed him to cover City Hall, odds are he'd be totally lost. He is focused only on his cops stuff, and he doesn't keep up with everything else.

    Put a sports guy on a news desk, and he can flourish (and crank out pages faster than most of the news folks). Other way around, not so much.
  12. statrat

    statrat Member

    I agree whole heartedly. I've stepped in to cover news events plenty of times and come back with stuff that is pretty darn good in my opinion. I asked a news sider to fill in for me once and will never do it again after I spent hours rewriting a story so it could actually be usable.
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