Interview with Norbert Tiemann & Hilmar Riemenschneider
Westfälische Nachrichten adopted the Ifra Newsplex convergence concept, NewsDesk.
In 2006, the Westfälische Nachrichten, a regional newspaper based in Münster, Germany, with a daily circulation of 220,000, adopted the Ifra Newsplex convergence concept, NewsDesk, for its printed edition in July and fully integrated it with the newspaper’s online edition when it relaunched a few months later.
Here, Norbert Tiemann, editor in chief of Westfälische Nachrichten, and Hilmar Riemenschneider, project leader at the newspaper, discuss how they went about the reorganisation process.
newspaper techniques: What for you were the success factors at the time of introducing NewsDesk?
Tilmann Riemenschneider: For us, it was a decisive pre-
We analysed our newspaper online in relation to its contents, how the contents were received by the readers, which contents were weighted and how, and whether we present any contents in a way that the reader does not like to have them presented.
The results from our findings were felt throughout the newsroom. We noticed we need a different topic management. We must approach the readers a lot closer. That helped also there was a greater acceptance when introducing changes.
Norbert Tiemann: We are the leading medium in our region, (but) in view of falling circulations, it’s no longer enough to contact people only once in the morning. We must keep in contact 24 hours and to do so use all available information channels whether online, mobile, whatever.
A basic precondition for this, for managing such a project journalistically is to have a media concept such as the NewsDesk.
nt: Starting with ReaderScan, how many main phases did the Newsplex project have?
T. Riemenschneider: From the results from readerscan, the question arose of how we should achieve this improved topic management and we should weigh the topics correctly.
We then also started to define the production processes in various areas, at the various desks. We divided them up depending on who did what best of all.
There are those who really only look after the content, research topics and process them, and there are colleagues who are better at functional services.
nt: How did the personnel react?
N. Tiemann: Overall, positively. Beyond the NewsDesk functions, we retained the desk heads, but the complete or overall control is via NewsDesk. That is accepted by our colleagues. They see in the new concept, many new liberties for their own journalistic work.
nt: How did you prepare personnel for the practical work?
T. Riemenschneider: We sent the team that sits at the NewsDesk together with several other journalists for a special training to the Newsplex training center, where they were able to test the processes and the new role concepts under realistic conditions.
That was just shortly before the introduction of the NewsDesk so that they went to the NewsDesk fresh and inspired and tried also to translate it into reality.
nt: What effect did that have on the quality of the newspaper?
N. Tiemann: Excellent effect. I’ve been approached very often by people saying that the product has changed quite a lot and in the meantime, we’ve also undertaken a relaunch.
nt: Would you consider going back to work the way you used to before the NewsDesk was there?
T. Riemenschneider: No, never.
N. Tiemann: We said in advance that this is an irreversible process. The correctness of this statement is confirmed day by day.
This interview was conducted by Ifra Newsplex Director Dietmar Schantin.
Page first published: 16.01.2007