Interesting: got a trackback from Drew B’s take on tech PR which then pointed me on to Tom Foremski’s blog (Hi, Tom!). Where it turns out there’s a whole lot of UK-media-watching going on: Tom had the tale of how VNU broke up its centralised News Centre long before it was news, or even announced, in the UK.
VNU chopping up its news centre into a bunch of twisting, edgy journalists seems to me an acknowledgement that such “repurposing” schemes just can’t work. You can’t make a bunch of people simultaneously write copy for a whole stack of outputs, and yet for none of them. It only works for news agencies like PA, Reuters and AFP because often their copy gets used directly in local papers (and even some nationals)
But trying to take that sort of philosophy in-house means you are never speaking directly to the reader, which is what a journalist must at least feel like they’re doing. Lose touch with the reader, and you lose your readership. The “news centre” concept was briefly mooted at Mirror Group in the late 1990s, and rapidly dropped; a rare example when sense prevailed. It’s cheaper; also worse.
Good luck to the VNU folk seeking jobs. May you find the ones you want.