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Caught in the Web

1) Last summer, this was New York Times executive editor Bill Keller's message to the staff as he described the integration of the online and newspaper operations.

Over the past ten years the newsroom of Nytimes.com and the newsroom on 43rd Street have been partners at a distance -- separated administratively, culturally, geographically and financially. We have built bridges -- most notably the Continuous News Desk -- and we have admired each other's work, but we have not been full collaborators. This was probably a healthy arrangement in the formative years, because it allowed our digital operation to flourish, to experiment, to move at its own quick rhythm and focus on the competitive new digital world. The result is, unassailably, the best and most widely read newspaper website in the world, one that consistently wins every award in the field and that continues to attract new readers in droves.

But in those ten years, the world has changed. The digital news operation is now grown up and strong, ready to enlarge its ambitions. The reporting and editing staff at the original newsroom is much more at ease with the Web, more eager to embrace it both as an opportunity for invention and an alternative way to reach our demanding audience. We have a burgeoning video unit that is eager to be a larger presence on the website, at a time when most users of Nytimes.com have graduated to the kind of high-speed delivery that makes video appealing. And all of us appreciate that one of the biggest long-term challenges facing our craft is to invent a digital journalism and new services for our readers that both live up to our high standards and help carry the cost of a great news-gathering organization.

We have concluded that our best chance of meeting that challenge is to integrate the two newsrooms into one. This will enable us to fully tap the creative energy of this organization and thus raise digital journalism to  the next level. In the coming weeks, we will be working with editors and staff in both places to work out details and accomplish a smooth transition.

2) Today's short brief in the Globe's business section is considerably less lyrical.

The Boston Globe will integrate its news-gathering operations with the Boston.com website as part of its strategy of making its content more readily accessible on various media. Globe editor Martin Baron will oversee editorial operations for both operations and will coordinate how news and features are reported, edited, and presented online and in print. Boston.com general manager Richard Gair will continue to oversee technology functions. No layoffs will result from the move. Globe publisher Richard Gilman said the integration ``will help us to expand our reach and influence, gain revenue and market share, and fiercely compete with a host of rapidly changing and expanding media options for readers and advertisers." Both the Globe and Boston.com are owned by The New York Times Co.

3) The Herald had its own spin on the move today and it was -- not surprisingly -- not flattering.

Globe Web site loses autonomy
By Jerry Kronenberg

Just call it the Boring Broadsheet.com.
The Boston Globe is putting its Boston.com online unit more directly under the print publication’s control.
 “When we launched Boston.com, autonomy and absolute focus were essential for success,” Globe Publisher Richard Gilman wrote his staff in a memo, a copy of which the Herald has obtained. “Now, we are in a new phase of heightened competition . . . (and) to flourish in this new environment, we need a more integrated approach.”
Gilman wrote that the Globe plans to merge the two operations’ editorial staffs under Globe Editor Martin Baron’s control. Plans also call for Globe executives to oversee Boston.com’s marketing, design, finance and human resources.
Additionally, the paper intends to move some 35 Boston.com sales and editorial staffers from their current downtown locale to the Globe’s Morrissey Boulevard headquarters.

Despite the Globe's soft-peddling of the news, the merging of the online and print operations under Baron's control is a major -- and definitely overdue -- move for a paper that had been too slow to create a working relationship between its dead tree and cyber journalists and whose web operation, while successful, was often treated as a dangling appendage. (There was a detrimental psychological impact on the rank-and-file as well with many talented veteran journalists feeling alienated from the online effort.) That's been changing recently with the introduction of more blogging and the creation of web editors. And the announcement today would seem to be a belated acknowledgement that everyone on Morrissey Boulevard should be pulling in the same direction.

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