LEADERSHIP: In fall and spring terms, this desk is typically led by a culture editor and assistant culture editor. In summers, this desk is typically blends into the news desk. Fall/spring editing duties are divided as editors see fit. An often successful method is to have reporters assigned to a particular editor to build a rapport and trust over time.
STAFF: In fall and spring terms, this desk typically has one senior reporter, one junior reporter and interns as available.
PLANNING: This desk should hold one meeting a week to plan the next two to three weeks of coverage beyond breaking news events or day reporting. Senior reporters have higher expectations in terms of hours logged and work produced. Organizationally, you need a master budget/calendar system for upcoming coverage as well as major cultural events and general goings on in OU’s College of Fine Arts, Norman’s arts/dining scene and some broader metro-area developments.
COMMUNICATION: Leaders of this desk should regularly check the main culture email, monitor key newsmakers’ social media accounts and read competitors like The Norman Transcript, The Oklahoman and others. Communication should be a blend of in-person where possible and in Slack for broader transparency and understanding throughout the culture editors and culture desk. Often, that manifests in a Slack channel for culture editors and another for the culture desk, as well as topic-specific channels like major events like Norman Music Fest. It’s especially important for culture editors to communicate and coordinate with editors of other desks when contemplating coverage that falls into gray areas of responsibility. It’s also imperative that culture editors ensure their staffers or themselves are consistently communicating with visual editors about coverage needs and possibilities as well as the process of securing credentials, which the culture editor typically handles for any events that require them.
MINDSET: The most successful culture desks are on their toes, actively seeking out news, rather than ones on their heels, waiting for news releases and press conferences. Additionally, editors should keep in mind the varied audiences – on campus, in the city/state and beyond – our work can serve.
DAILY REPORTING: These are commonly called “day reporting” shifts in our newsroom, or “general assignment” in others. It’s a coverage that develops and needs to be fully covered in a single day, or some instances be handled immediately. Assignments like this include major concert announcements, restaurant closures, artist honors, etc.
FULL STORIES AND ENTERPRISE: These are pieces worked on for longer periods – multiple days, if not weeks or more – that add deeper value to our news report. In particular, culture staffers should invest most of their energies in this type of work. Be they news or features, these are longer and more rigorous to produce in terms of sourcing, word count, general complexity, etc. They are must-reads that provide our audience deeper value on our core topics than our competitors often might, and they also are the types of pieces hiring editors want to see in candidates’ portfolios.
BUILDING BLOCKS FOR DESK ORIENTATION: