Tips for running a successful news agency
Tuesday 11 January 2011
If you want to run a successful news agency you need a clear vision, offer something unique and relevant, know the needs of your audience, be a great team builder and listener, know how to prioritise ruthlessly, ensure you add value in all you do, and have clear and visible ethics and standards. Some basic tips.
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ABOUT
You can’t be everywhere and do everything. You have to rely on your people to do the work, but they have to know the right direction and they have to know the ethics and standards that are vital to you.
- Having clear ethics and standards is vital.
COMMUNICATE YOUR VISION
It isn't enough to have a vision or a system of values; your journalists have to hear it, believe in it and internalize it.
- Everyone involved in the process must share the vision.
BE INCLUSIVE AND VISIBLE
Journalists are loners; your job is to make a team out of individuals. You do that by being around, by talking and by listening – it can be in person or it can be by digital social networking. The important thing is it happens.
- You need to be a team builder and learn to listen your staff and the audience.
We aren't in this for ourselves. We are providing a service, and if we want to get paid for doing this, we have to keep the customer in mind
KNOW WHO YOU’RE WRITING FOR
We aren't in this for ourselves. We are providing a service, and if we want to get paid for doing this, we have to keep the customer in mind.
- Know your audience and ensure you focus on its needs.
There's enough work for an infinite number of journalists working an infinite number of hours. But that is an impossibility. Know what's important and do that - jettison the rest.
- Be selective and focused and don't be distracted by the unimportant.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE ADDING VALUE IN WHAT YOU DELIVER
The enemy is commoditisation. Add value, make every story really count.
- Don't just recycle information, ensure what you produce is distinctive and adds value.
BE RELEVANT, BE UNIQUE
No one pays for boring. No one buys routine.
- We are not there to bore the audience, we are there to inform.
Sure these jobs are important, but there's no point in doing them unless they're a lot of fun too.
- If you are having fun producing your journalism that will come through in what you deliver.
David Schlesinger is editor-in-chief of Reuters. This column was first published as a guest contribution to the website Media Helping Media which asked him to write it after an approach was made for a training module from a regional news agency in Africa. ■