By December, the Democrat and Chronicle's newsroom should be completely reorganized. News staff will have new titles and job descriptions, as well as reconfigured beats.
But it's not entirely clear what this new newsroom will look like and how the D&C's web and print products may change. And it is unclear how many staff members, some with decades of experience, may be out of jobs. They aren't guaranteed new positions; if they want to stay on, they have to apply and interview for the jobs.
"Virtually every position in the newsroom is new in terms of how we're defining it and the job descriptions that go with that," says Dennis Floss, the D&C's marketing director.
Floss wouldn't elaborate on the new positions and beats. The newsroom staff received the new job descriptions last week and he says he wants to be respectful of them.
"It's fair to say that most newsroom employees are upset with a process that requires us to re-apply for work at a place where many of us have worked for years," says a statement from the Newspaper Guild of Rochester. "Nonetheless, most in the newsroom are forging ahead and doing what needs to be done."
Karen Magnuson, a D&C editor and vice president of news, laid out the coming changes in a column to readers. She billed the reorganization as a way to improve the D&C's digital content while staying faithful to the print product and its readers. Similar newsroom restructurings are happening at Gannett papers across the country.
Magnuson offered a few details in her column. The D&C will increase its investigative reporting staff from four to seven, she said, and add a problem-solving reporter to focus on consumer and bureaucratic issues.
She also wrote that the newsroom "will be leaner with fewer layers of managers but the number of reporters and photographers will remain the same." Gannett's consolidating some editing and production jobs into a regional hub, she said, and some people may lose jobs as a result.
Floss says it's premature to quantify any possible newsroom cuts. The guild's statement says that employees only know that the final newsroom work force will be smaller.
Tom Proietti, who founded St. John Fisher College's communications/journalism program, says that the D&C's restructuring makes sense. He points to his own media consumption habits as an example of the digital shift confronting news organizations. He says that when he's looking for news, he starts with Twitter. The D&C is probably seeing similar patterns among its readers, he says. (Proietti is a Gannett stockholder, and a D&C subscriber.)
"People are programming for themselves simply because it's easier to do, it's more fun," he says.
Floss says that the D&C tries to deliver news with audience behavior in mind. The company is looking at when and where people access its content, he says, as well as how. That's top of mind for the news industry in general, he says.
"People want news when they want it on the device they want it," he says.