Washington’s WAMU restructures newsroom

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WAMU in Washington, D.C., announced Wednesday the initial steps of a five-year newsroom reorganization that includes tripling its size.

The station will structure coverage around five topics: transportation and development, education and inequality, race and ethnicity, power and influence, and arts and culture. The station said it will cover the beats in-depth across multiple platforms, taking a cue from “multiplatform news desks at NPR and organizations outside public media,” according to a press release.

“As the NPR station in the nation’s capital, we have a responsibility to be a leader in public radio journalism — both in the quality of our on-air work and in the inventiveness of our digital offerings,” said Andi McDaniel, senior director of content and news, in the release. “In the coming months, listeners will hear greater consistency on our air, and they’ll see more appealing digital content on all of our platforms.”

As part of the reshuffling, WAMU will eliminate two positions held by reporters covering Virginia and Maryland. Regional coverage will be incorporated into the new beats, and the reporters will have an opportunity to apply to the new positions.

The station will also hire for seven new positions, including two desk editors, a live events and partnerships producer, an editorial project manager, news producers for ATC and Morning Edition, and an editorial director to lead the newsroom.

Local news will drive the station: “That’s why we exist,” McDaniel told the Washingtonian. But rather than stories whose importance is relative to their location, “we want the story and the topic to be what drives our coverage,” she said.

“We would like to do fewer things, but better and more consistently,” McDaniel said.

Within five years, WAMU plans to have upward of 10 beats in its newsroom, as well as an investigative unit.