What is a Newsroom Hierarchy?
When we read our morning paper or watch the evening news, it can be easy to forget that the reporter or anchor is not the only professional responsible for bringing us our information. Behind the scenes are other professionals who share in the process. Together, they work to sift out important events and facts and bring us the headlines of the day. The hierarchy of a newsroom helps ensure that news is delivered in a timely manner and that the material shared is fresh, relevant and informative.
While the exact structure of a newspaper newsroom may vary from one paper to the next, a general structure applies to most of them. The editor-in-chief typically sits atop the newsroom hierarchy of a newspaper. She oversees the development of a newspaper's content, coverage, scheduling and the personnel that bring it all together. The editor-in-chief oversees a wide range of other editors tasked with managing specific aspects of a newspaper, followed by different levels of reporters and photographers. The managing editor, in conjunction with the editor-in-chief, ensures the layout of the newspaper is properly structured and its production is completed on time. Section editors such as sports editors and entertainment editors manage the content delivery for their specific sections. News editors receive news copy and confer with the editorial staff to decide news coverage and story placement. Senior reporters and reporters sit below editors and are responsible for transforming information into engaging content, while photographers submit images to their editors to complement article content.
In a television newsroom, a news director usually sits atop the organizational structure. He manages the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and is responsible for hiring decisions. Next in line is the assistant news director, who is tasked with managing other daily operations of the newsroom, including all on-air graphics and story selection. Then comes the executive producer who oversees a team of line producers. Line producers are responsible for piecing together each newscast and deciding which stories make it to air. On-air talent such as anchors and reporters fall under producers in the hierarchy, while crew members such as cameramen fall just below them.
The Internet has revolutionized the news industry, and many sources of print media have had to adjust by adding online divisions to compete with the growing number of online news sources and blogs. Digital media have adapted to the shifting priorities of the industry by adjusting their own staffing hierarchies. Digital news departments usually consist of producers who are responsible for creating content for the Web, followed by channel managers who oversee specific content areas like sports or music. Editors and writers can be divided by different content sections such as sports, news and entertainment. Writers will report up to editors, while editors will report up to producers and the editor-in-chief. Digital managers also contribute by introducing strategic ways to increase viewership.
The journalism industry continues to undergo tremendous change as technology and digital media expand new platforms in which to engage audiences. According to a 2008 study by the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of newspapers with a circulation of over 100,000 readers were forced to reduce staff during the preceding three years. This has affected the hierarchies of countless newspapers as members of these newsrooms are forced to wear multiple hats and increase individual workloads. In addition, many print magazines and newspapers are shifting focus from their print platforms to the Web in order to capture more readers, which also has disrupted the traditional hierarchy to include more digital and Web editors.
M. Skylar Ezell has been writing about politics, entertainment, urban culture and career-related topics since 2007. His communications work for Fortune 500 companies in health care, technology and hospitality has resulted in international recognition, including the Association for Talent Development BEST Award and Achievers Global Award. He is a graduate of Georgia State University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and public relations.