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Universal Desks

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ColbertNation, Jan 23, 2007.

  1. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    Anyone here work on a universal desk? I'm wondering if you find it preferable to separating news and sports. It seems like it could work if it's done right, but it also seems that there's a lot of room for problems. Thoughts?
  2. WSKY

    WSKY Member

    it would never work — at least at my place.
  3. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Worked on a u-desk once. Sucked ass. I was the sports specialist. When I was off or on vacation, some of the most shocking errors got through, ones that wouldn't have if someone who knew about sports would have been working.
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I have worked in a shop where everything but sports was centralized, and the funny thing is that the people on that desk would have done fine with sports if it had been incorporated, too. But you'd need a very good group to pull it off.
  5. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    I'm guessing that a lot of universal desks morph into what dools alludes to here ... they quickly identify those who are comfortable with sports and play to their strengths.
  6. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    does U-desk only work at smaller operations?
    Can it work when more than 10 or 15 copy editors involved?
  7. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    From my experience, it only works on very large desks.
    And, the rotation for sports must be a lot smaller than other sections. There are too many intricacies and too much institutional knowledge that goes with being part of a sports desk.
    Not everyone wants to know, or cares to know, that Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup the year before the Lockout.
  8. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    Colbert hit the nail in the head with his question. If done right, it can work. But rarely is it done right. At my previous shop, we went to a universal desk when I got there. The problem was I was the only thing universal on it. Our sports guy still did sports, and when he did news he was terribly slow at it. Our news people rarely touched sports, and if they did, it was to do a photo page. I did both and I like to think I did well, but we were all so swamped with work that it really never showed. After about six months of doing both, our universal desk fell apart and I strictly did news.
  9. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    The year I spent on the news desk right out of college was easily the longest professional year of my life. Two verrrrrry different animals.
  10. thegrifter

    thegrifter Member

    the biggest problem with it is when non-sports people end up designing sports. it just turns into a pain in the ass pulling stories for them all the time. however, the alternative is them pulling stories that nobody would really care about. so, when done right, i'm sure it could work, but at my last shop, it was kinda rough.
  11. My second newspaper had a universal desk. The posters here are right: You didn't want one of the non-sports specialists editing your stuff. Some of the things they tried to put in were incredibly stupid. Fortunately, they either tried to run it past you first, or a sports-savvy slot would edit it out.

    So I move to my third newspaper. The blowhard editor tells me he'd heard my second paper had a universal desk, and he chided the paper for how ridiculous that was. At that place, you wanted someone who cared enough not to simply hit the down button. There were typos that got into the paper that never would have gotten into my old paper.

    All things considered, I think I liked the way they did it at the old paper more.
  12. thegrifter

    thegrifter Member

    Or maybe your old staff was just better.
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