Daily Report: SNA Foundation’s North American Innovation Mission

SNA President Nancy Lane will provide daily reports from the road while traveling with the Innovation Mission. Eighteen community media executives are taking part in this week-long study to visit with some of the most innovative media houses in North America. The group is focusing on new business models and emerging content strategies.

Matt DeRienzo, Publisher of The Register Citizen, in the Newsroom Café.

Wednesday Afternoon Report: JRC’s Open Community Newsroom – The “Torrington State of Mind”

Open and transparent best describes Journal Register Company’s Open Community Newsroom in downtown Torrington, CT. And what they have created in this former sewing machine factory is simply remarkable and serves as a model for the entire industry.

The Register Citizen (daily with circulation of about 7,000) has redefined the meaning of community contributions. The renovated building includes meeting rooms, a café, access to archives, a copy machine (free of charge to the public), and perhaps most importantly, community input in the news-making process.

Emily M. Olson, Managing Editor of The Register Citizen, instructs community members on writing releases.

The paper opens up the daily news meeting to the public every day at 4 PM. They also broadcast the meeting live for those that can’t make it to the building. This has resulted in valuable leads, information and access to stories that would otherwise not be told.

The Register Citizen even goes beyond that. They host dozens of monthly classes, open to the public, free of charge. During our visit, about 15 attendees were being educated on “how to write an effective press release.” The class takes place right in the newsroom and is conducted by Emily M. Olson, Managing Editor of The Register Citizen. Other classes include help for bloggers, taking photos, editing, video and more.

Jon Cooper, Journal Register Company Vice President of Content, presents to Innovation Mission attendees.

Jon Cooper, Journal Register Company Vice President of Content, told Innovation Mission attendees that others in the company have “Torrington envy” because of the renovated building and layout of the open newsroom. He tells publishers and editors in the company that it’s just about moving furniture to make it happen elsewhere. Every paper is capable of setting this up. Cooper calls it the “Torrington state of mind” and others in the company are starting to adapt this concept.

Innovation Mission attendees were inspired and impressed by the innovation coming out of this relatively small operation, and the “Torrington state of mind” was the subject of choice on the long bus ride back to Boston.

Matt DeRienzo, Publisher of The Register Citizen, shows Innovation Mission participants around the Open Community Newsroom.

Special thanks to Jon Cooper, Adam Burnham, Matt DeRienzo and their teams for an outstanding day and for sharing so much. The full day with Journal Register Company will be covered in great detail in the comprehensive industry report to be released in the coming weeks.

Next Up: Meeting with Linda Grist Cunningham, Executive Editor of the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star, and visit to MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media.