These Three Actions Will Save Staff Time and Effort in the Newsroom

For many newsrooms, the past few months have been a battlefield as resources strained under the pressure of tightened budgets and significant global events

News organizations that have survived until now have adapted their processes to overcome the hurdles of working remotely, a higher demand for news and reduced staff. Moving forward, newsrooms will need to continue to embrace time-saving strategies to boost workplace efficiency.

“There’s been a lot of conversation about what a return to normal looks like,” says Jon Laurence, the supervising executive producer at AJ+. “And actually just as I don’t think that society is going to return to the old normal, I think that’s true of the press as well… the workflow changes that we’ve made… are just more efficient in some cases.”

Media companies can greatly reduce the time and effort they invest in various everyday tasks to focus on higher-value work. To accomplish this, all they need to do is put a few simple strategies into action.

Explore three ways media companies can save their newsrooms time and energy below.

Automating Comment Moderation

Perhaps one of the largest lessons media companies have discovered this year is that audience engagement is everything when it comes to building sustainable reader revenue. And commenting tools that are properly moderated are key to developing engaged, loyal community members. 

However, effective comment moderation often requires a massive amount of attention, time and training from staff. 

That’s where machine-based automation comes in. 

Newsrooms can enlist the help of moderation engines, equipped with artificial intelligence and machine learning qualities, to manage toxic comments. Instead of relying on staff to manually skim comment threads, automatic moderation systems can instantly identify and block incivility from the moment a user tries to publish a comment.

This means that machine automation in the newsroom, like automated comment moderation, has the power to free up time for journalists and editors.

Just be sure to select a moderation system that can detect all 6.5 million variations of each toxic word, understand local language and support your community guidelines.

Concerned that automating comment moderation will threaten employee jobs? 

Rather than eliminating the need for staff, Francesco Marconi, a journalism professor at Columbia University, explains that machines “will in fact reorient editors and journalists towards value-added content.”

Outsourcing Moderation on Your Social Spaces

Although machines are capable of detecting most forms of toxicity in social spaces, humans are still needed to train any intelligent algorithm and manage trolls. Together, the combination of automatic and human moderation can keep your community protected from spam and offensive content. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to overwhelm your staff with moderation responsibilities. You can transfer the burden of human moderation to a highly trained third-party provider. As a result, newsroom staff will have more time to establish strong connections with digital visitors.

[Outsourcing moderation can save] yourself time and resources that can be better spent engaging directly with your users,“ explains Leigh Adams, director of moderation at Viafoura, in a recent webinar. “Making sure that you’re highlighting [your most active users’] content [and] featuring their comments… allows your readership to feel like they’re part of the ecosystem and feel valued.”

Consider making the most of third-party moderation by outsourcing the heavy lifting for your owned and operated properties as well as your social media accounts.

Pulling Content Ideas Directly From the Community

Journalists and editors understand that pitching content ideas is an art form. Coming up with original, relevant ideas that resonate with audience members time and time again can be a painstaking process for newsroom staff.

To take some of the guesswork out of the content-creation process, news companies are finding content inspiration directly from their communities. More specifically, media organizations have started to produce high-performing content by asking community members about their information needs. 

Not only can leveraging content ideas from the community save staff time researching topics to pitch, but it can also help to secure strong relationships with readers. 

Anna Nirmala, vice president of the American Journalism Project, emphasizes that, in the coming months, “[it] will be understood that having a relevant and trusted brand is linked to building relationships and engaging with the community.”

Ultimately, asking your readers what they’re interested in reading about — whether that be through social tools, surveys or another method of communication — will save staff time and energy while paving the way for highly trusted and engaging content. 

By reducing time-consuming tasks in the newsroom, staff can spend more time creating positive user experiences that matter to visitors.

Why a Temporary Facebook Boycott Isn’t Enough

With over 2.7 billion active monthly users, Facebook has become a popular destination for media companies hoping to approach new audiences. 


But funneling time and money into Facebook feeds a growing list of problems. Most recently, a series of nonprofit groups asked companies all over the world to temporarily pull their advertisements from the big tech company. This “Hate for Profit” boycott was meant to pressure Facebook to take action against hate speech and misinformation on the platform. 

Since then, the social media platform has taken some small steps to better itself, like promising to hire a new VP of civil rights and removing more posts that suppress voting — yet, it isn’t nearly enough. 

The boycott showcased the seriousness of Facebook’s flaws, but it was also temporary, meaning that the social giant expected its advertisers to come back.

In Mark Zuckerberg’s words, “all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

But the disadvantages of using Facebook extend beyond advertising. Media companies that use the platform organically, without investing any advertising dollars, also face a series of consequences. And Facebook isn’t taking action to resolve these issues. 

Clearly, a temporary boycott of the platform won’t cut it anymore. Here’s why you may want to consider making your boycott or disuse of the platform a little more permanent.

The Ongoing Spread of Incivility and Misinformation

Facebook is notorious for enabling the spread of misinformation, racism and voter manipulation. Unfortunately, the social media giant relies on a moderation system that can’t effectively sift through and block all offensive posts and fake news. 

Not to mention that its algorithms will amplify the reach of content and groups with high engagement rates, regardless of its nature. In many cases, hate groups are even allowed to exist and are recommended to other users on the platform.

“From the monetization of hate speech to discrimination in their algorithms to the proliferation of voter suppression to the silencing of Black voices, Facebook has refused to take responsibility for hate, bias, and discrimination growing on their platforms,” Color of Change, a racial justice organization, writes on its website

Now imagine what happens when your content is thrown into the mix of misinformation, trolls, bots and discrimination. 

Ultimately, your brand’s credibility is significantly reduced on Facebook since so many people don’t trust the content they come across on the platform.

Whether it be due to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal or the ongoing incivility, many people have already lost trust in the social platform. So how can you possibly nurture an audience that trusts your brand in such a volatile environment? A month-long or even year-long boycott isn’t going to help regain the trust of Facebook users.

No Audience Ownership

Facebook poses more challenges to media companies than just fake news and offensive comments. It also acts as a barrier between businesses and audiences, often preventing brands from accessing the proper data needed to form close connections with users. 

If you use the platform as a primary way to attract and nurture consumers, you’re stuck with the limited insights Facebook provides. In other words, you can forget about getting in-depth first-party data or engagement data on your community members. 

On Facebook, the only company that gets ownership over your community and its data is Facebook

And here’s the problem with that: By missing out on consumer data, the opportunity to understand your consumers to improve and monetize their experiences with your brand is slipping through your fingers. 

Actionable first-party data can be used to build valuable, personalized consumer experiences. 

“Our ability to capture interaction data at scale, turn it to insight and leverage it broadly across our organization will define our success,” states Troy Young, Hearst Magazines’ president.

Limited Control Over Your Content

Facebook’s algorithm is constantly changing. Businesses have been disrupted time and time again as the platform changes how content’s prioritized in the News Feeds. 

According to Hootsuite, a social media management platform, posts by brands on Facebook during late 2019 were seen by around 5.5% of their social media followers. 

This means that 94.5% of their Facebook followers would never even see posts from brands in the News Feed. 

Additionally, media companies are powerless to where their content is displayed to users. Your precious articles could even be sandwiched between fake news or offensive user posts in someone’s Feed. 

Media companies simply don’t have enough control over how their content is showcased and who can see it on Facebook. 

In fact, Facebook hid potentially live-saving information related to COVID-19 from users during the early stages of the pandemic. 

Whether or not the social media platform can solve its misinformation and incivility challenges, it will always hold all of the cards when it comes to displaying your content — and that might not be in your company’s best interest. 

A temporary boycott simply isn’t effective enough to convince the social media giant to renounce its power over your content.

Loss of Revenue

Pew Research Center notes that Facebook owned 42% of all digital display advertising revenue in 2019. 

By using Facebook as an advertising platform, not only are you helping to fund the site, but you’re also losing a cut of your advertising revenue to them.

Instead of giving a share of your ad revenue to Facebook, you can make the most of your company’s digital properties by running your in-house and third-party ads right on your platform. 

Consider leveraging the social spaces within your own website or app to run advertisements to maximize the engagement around your ads

At the end of the day, Facebook presents issues far beyond damaging the reputation and revenue earnings of your company — it also stands in the way of keeping people informed, safe and aware of deep-rooted prejudices. 

While Facebook must continue improving itself, don’t let the success of your brand and safety of internet users be tied to the social media giant. This is the time to stop focusing on investing in a company that’s bringing yours down. Instead, focus on building up your own brand outside of Facebook’s influence.

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