Food for thought
Who ever said there was no such thing as a free lunch, never spent time with a news reporter.
Public relations folks know this and attract hordes of journalists to press conferences and media events by including six little words in a press release: “Food and beverages will be served.”
You’d think members of the fifth estate were half-starved street urchins. But the truth is, and this is my theory, reporters are always around when free food is served because it’s one of the few perks of the job. Ethically journalists can’t accept anything for doing their job, with the exception being what you can take away in your stomach (as long as it’s not a meal).
So what does this have to do with digital journalism? Nothing really, other than food.
The Winnipeg Free Press has taken the concept of an open newsroom and added its own twist to it. They operate a cafe in the heart of the city’s downtown. The paper’s multimedia editor, video reporter and social media reporter all work out of the cafe and other reporters are assigned weekly to work out of the establishment.
The public has a chance to speak to reporters, holding them accountable but also feeding them the odd story idea. Events are also staged there, including political debates, and also live-streamed through the Free Press website.
Deputy online editor John White says the cafe is a way to make the Free Press a physical community hub, which he hopes will translate into the digital realm.