Dana Coester
Dana Coester

335. It’s time to design newsrooms people want to work in

Dana Coester, a professor at the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University, learned a lot about modern newsroom design during the university’s makeover of its Innovation Center. The aim for that project was to design a space that reflected the way newsrooms were changing their work spaces. After some more research on the subject, she published a study for the American Press Institute about how to improve newsroom design.

“I heard editors again, again talk about the things that they hated about their old newsrooms,” she said. “They would describe these as these crazy little hovels.”

Redesigning a newsroom isn’t just about making it look better. It’s more about realigning the space to fit and enhance the employees’ workflow.

“The industry as a whole has moved away from that sort of cubicle model anyway,” she said “But if you think about newsrooms, journalists aren’t often at their desks and because they are out reporting and the idea that you would have all of this real estate given over to row after row of mostly empty desks.”

Add on top of that the ongoing downsizing across the journalism industry and many newsrooms had become very dire places to work.

“That’s kind of a morale downer, when you see an acre of chairs, in a really big [space] like the New York Times newsroom,” Coester said. “And, when that space can be given over to all of these sort of flexible, movable spaces that people can come and go, use as needed, and you aggregate sort of in impromptu ways.”

For her study, Coester visited a number of publications, including Quartz and the Virginian-Pilot. She discovered newsrooms that had incorporated more open space, natural lighting and designated gathering spaces to promote a positive work environment and more collaboration.

“They’re all of these theories and innovation about how people approach objects and spaces when things have assigned sort of parameters, then people tend to only think of it in the context of the assigned parameters,” Coester said.  “So when you have furniture that’s movable, when you have spaces that are not designated spaces. Now of course we had our sunlit studios and things that have to be specific to a particular activity. But the more you move away from having spaces being assigned spaces to a particular activity, the more it forces the people who are using them to use their imaginations and the space.”

More Episodes

295. Putting sports second, athletes first

Tim Graham, an NFL writer for the Buffalo News for the better part of two decades, joins producer Michael O’Connell to talk about the highs and lows of covering a city whose teams are better known for losing than winning and why, in the big picture, the W/L column is secondary to everything off the playing field.

Listen »

289. Illustration: What’s included and what’s left out

Graphic designer and illustrator David Plunkert joins producer Michael O’Connell to discuss his view that designers are visual communicators who need to convey ideas and stories in a single piece of work and how it’s the little details that can make a powerful statement. He recently illustrated the new edition of Mary Shelley’s novel: Classics Reimagined, Frankenstein

Listen »

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

To get all the the latest news about our podcast, including guests and special events, fill out the form below to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.