02. Key moments : the newsroom meetings

There are four key moments in the life of a newsroom : first there’s the weekly provisional meeting. Then every day, the morning meeting takes place with every journalist in the newsroom. Then a second meeting in small committee defines the rundown. After the newscast, every participant meets for a debriefing. The quality and coherency of the newscast depend on such meetings. 

Newsroom meetings : provisioning, producing, self evaluating.

  •  The provisional meeting :

It takes place once a week, to plan the packages and anticipate on current or future events. Attending are the directors, the chief editors, the journalists (writers and cameramen), assistants and researchers. All external solicitations are examined, picked or rejected. Selected stories are consigned in the newsroom’s agenda.

  • The newsroom meeting :

It takes place 6 to 8 hours before the newscast, to build the newscast of the day. It’s held with every journalist in the newsroom, and depending on the size of the station, managers and technical teams. It starts with the newspaper review, a look into the agenda. Then everyone gives their point of view and ideas. The news director picks the stories that will be treated and the angles. As the meeting goes, a pre-rundown starts shaping itself. This meeting lasts between 20 and 45 minutes.

  • The preparatory meeting :

It takes place 4 to 2 hours before the newscast. The director or his second in command, the continuity men and the anchor settle the newscast’s rundown. It’s used as a guide for all producing teams (the on-set cameramen the technical teams, the assistant director, the special effects man, the sound producers, the anchor…).

  • The debriefing (straight after the newscast) :

It’s about pointing out strengths and weaknesses and discussing them with all journalists and technicians involved in the newscast. All technical issues, failures and successes are discussed. They’re also discussed the following day during the morning meeting. Critical reviewing might be set up to help improve the following newscast (see 22).

  • Anticipating foreseeable events :

For the news not to depend only on solicitations, you need to anticipate.

Near the end of the newsroom meeting, the news director or one of his assistants checks the calendar to get an idea of upcoming events. He then picks a team to start brainstorming about the topic. This is not about having a fortnight to do the package, but to think about it in advance so as to be original and creative when treating the story on D-Day.