The Rundown No Longer Rules

This is part 3 in a series of blog posts on the Future Newsroom. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here.

For most media companies that make studio based news bulletins, the rundown – aka the running order – has long been the beating heart of the news operation.

Besides the actual studio rundown detailing the bulletin, everything from bookings to risk assessments is often stored in various rundowns and accessed by everyone in the newsroom. The rundown system ends up acting as a giant, centralised spreadsheet containing any and all sorts of information.

In modern news organisation that publish media to all channels around the clock the whole idea of the rundown needs to change

 

Looking at the rundown and how it is constructed it is clear that it is fundamentally studio focused, built upon an idea that all news follows the same format: a live studio show with talking heads interspersed with pre-recorded video clips.

A modern news organisation working with omni-channel outputs cannot use a rundown as the central repository for news information and the perception of the rundown needs to change.

A rundown in a modern news organisation is…

Not the central repository of information
A publishing point for near-finished content
Only used for studio shows

The rundown should now be seen simply as a publishing point — like the web CMS or a social media account — and not an editorial tool where news items are created. It can even be argued that unless someone is directly involved in the studio news production they should not even have access to the rundown.

The centre of the news should instead be the story (or topic) that collects related text, images, videos and other content in a container that can span days, or even months. Al Jazeera’s New York based AJ+ mobile app is a good showcase for how this concept works when it’s extended all the way out to the audience.

The content needs to be adapted to that output, but the majority of the content should be collected, curated, and (possibly) created upstream from the rundown.

Taking this modern view of the news rundown as a publishing point, and not the central tool for news creation, leaves traditional news organisations and broadcasters with two questions:

What will be the tool(s) for planning and curating news stories?

What will be the editorial tool(s) for writing the news stories and packaging content in an as platform-agnostic way as possible?