‘Make the time’ to sharpen newsroom skills 

Every news operation is (or should be) going full throttle, 24/7 (maybe a bit slower during the midnight shift, but you get the idea). We are busy, busy, busy producing information for ever increasing channels. This is such a given that it’s often served up as an excuse for the failure to provide training programs: “We have no time.”

From Dallas to Dubai, I have provided custom training for dozens of newsrooms who “found the time” to invest in staff development. Many were redesign clients, others simply invited me in to focus on skills improvement and organizational change. These publishers know that from the day an employee is hired, it is important to keep skills and inspiration fresh in order for each person and team to continue to do their best work.

Newsroom workshops are customized for each client and are often variations of presentations I’ve given for years, while on faculty at Poynter, visiting various universities, or speaking for groups including the Society for News Design. Popular topics include:

  • Managing and team-building for the redesign and rethinking process.
  • Social media strategy: Writing short and smart.
  • Responsive web design and UX (user experience): Theory and practice
  • Photojournalism: Connecting with your community.
  • Building photographer/writer relationships.
  • Leadership development: Being a better boss.
  • Teamwork: Respect and reward across departmental lines.
  • Powerful headlines that wow and inform.
  • Advertising + marketing + editorial: A marriage with three parts.
  • Communicate better: The art of the critique, and beyond.
  • Overcoming turf wars: When “ownership” of a section or department becomes territorial.
  • Creative and visual problem solving.
  • Writing critiques for news and features.
  • Infographics for “word people.”
  • News judgment and basic reporting for “art people.”
  • Strategic planning for newsrooms of the future.
  • How to create and maintain a powerful online portfolio and brand. (For college students.)

Sessions can range from 45 minute informal lunch breaks, to more formal classroom segments of 90 minutes, to full staff or leadership retreats of 1-3 days. Some newsrooms have engaged me in a “newsroom university” type program of a week or more, where I balance formal training sessions with roaming the newsroom to observe, coach and mentor in all departments. I attend planning meetings, observe and advise on leadership styles, help conduct pre-mortem and post-mortem critiques, etc.

Interested in innovation or change management? Newsrooms or colleges may wish to adapt topics I presented in my master class, “Critical Thinking About Design and Disruption,” during my recent semester as Distinguished Professor at the University of Montana School of Journalism. Review the full course syllabus, annotated to include readings and final projects, here.

Said one previous client, following a year-long engagement of periodic visits to provide newsroom training from story planning to social media strategy: “Ron has a great perspective on how words and images should work together to create an enhanced presentation of news pieces, beginning with a highly visual approach to story planning. Ron is also a great trainer, fully capable of orchestrating engaging seminars, fully sensitive to working in different cultural environments.” For additional references, link here.

Interested in a training and coaching residency of one month or more, or custom webinars? Or do you need a short-term art director, or ongoing critiques from afar? Let’s discuss. For more information on how custom training or other services might fit into your goals for newsroom development, please email me at For a partial list of previous training and teaching clients from around the world, link here.

Upcoming journalist training sessions:

  • July 2017, Chennai, India, for WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. [Link here to be notified of reading lists and other materials to be posted for participants in advance.]