Behind the Scenes: The Des Moines Register

A few weeks back, one of my classes at Simpson, #MobileSocial visited the Des Moines Register for a tour and information about some of their policies and how the newsroom works. Here’s what I took away.

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From our visit at the Des Moines Register, I learned a lot of new things relating to the way the newsroom works and how the Register gets their news out to the readers. I found it insightful the way they did the morning “briefing” and wrote out the schedule for each paper on the wall. This makes every story important and publicly known when each deadline is and who is writing the story.

The Register makes most of their money off of ad revenue, like most newspapers. They do make a small portion from subscriptions (both paper and digital), but it’s a vast minority of their revenue. On the tour, seeing the different areas that each “department” or section operates was interesting. It seemed like the news writers were separated from the ads/marketing and management team, but the administration, like the president, were near the newsroom. I just thought it was odd that there was so much empty space in each area, but they all still spread out throughout the office.

As Brian Smith said, the Register doesn’t have a social media mandate for its reporters or editors, but they strongly encourage its use. Obviously, social media is where most people see and get their news from, so having an active profile that shares accurate content is a good thing for reporters and editors to have.

In their social media policy, the Register outlines five areas in which they strive to achieve. All of them are in line with the SPJ Code of Ethics (seek/report the truth, integrity, independence, serving the public interest etc…), and all of them are appropriate for any news organization to follow.

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Because of my passion for sports, that is what I chose as me beat/niche for this class. Although, I’ve been following a good deal of sports reporters on twitter for a while, including the Regsiters’ Aaron Young, I started following a few others that write for the Register and the CR Gazette because of our visit.

I have had any direct interaction with Young or Chad Leistikow or Mark Emmert, but I’ve been following them and noticed one major thing about all three—consistency. Each of the three are consistently tweeting (in depth coverage of Iowa sports or sports in general), active on professional Facebook profiles or pages and covers more than just sports.

Aaron Young, though he is a sports reporter for the Register, covers many other things. Without the ability to cover news, politics, sports and entertainment etc… journalists are at the mercy of their knowledge. To have a strong following of Twitter, journalists can be an “expert” at one thing, but must be able to do many types of writing.

For sports, the best platform is definitely twitter. With ESPN, SportsCenter and many more profiles getting thousands of RT’s and interactions about breaking news or trade rumors etc., the quickness of Twitter is the best option for sports information.

On the front page of the Register on 1/31 was a story about Trump and his SOTU antics. By the time I looked online, that story was near the bottom of the first page and was difficult to find. Online, the Register is making the most “breaking” and popular news stories visible, because they will get the most traction and engagement from their subscribers.

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