Maestro directs newsroom musicians in journalistic symphony
Diane Robinson says the problem for newspapers is simply this: "Everyone likes to read a story, but not everybody likes to read news."
Robinson, the assistant editor, and Daniel Blom, the editor of the Logansport, Indiana, Pharos-Tribune, believe they have come up with a solution. It's called the maestro system and it aims to take advantage of breakthroughs in both technology and readership studies to make the newspaper more enjoyable to read.
They have been using the system since September, 1991, and they believe they have brought a new way of doing things to the newsroom.
The maestro system at the Pharos-Tribune, a 15,000 circulation daily, reverses the traditional way of operating in the newsroom.
Reporters, editors, photographers, and designers meet once a week for an idea group meeting where each is free to present ideas for a story, or they can discuss any innovation or question about coverage. In an early January session, for instance, photographer Andy Lavalley offered innovative suggestions for stories on such topics as Automated Teller Machine etiquette and safety, how a profoundly mentally handicapped young woman has stunned her parents and teachers by showing she can communicate through a keyboard, and how a local couple were not only Elvis fans, but had gone to a party with him. The Elvis story was proposed as a way to cover the publication of the Elvis stamp later in the week.
Once a concrete story idea is …