Assessing a crazy converged newsroom

This year we took two separate publications, a print newspaper staff and an online staff, and merged them into one staff that produces a monthly newsmagazine and a daily website. It’s become one big, crazy newsroom with lots of bodies moving in different directions working on wildly different assignments all at the same time. As a result, I had to change the way I evaluated and provided feedback to them on their performance. Here are the standards we established:

  1. We would work in monthly assessment periods determined by the print production cycle.
  2. Each staff member would produce at least three online content items and one print content item or page per cycle (though many exceed that).
  3. Each staff member would produce at least one multimedia project and one page design per semester (though many exceed that).
  4. We would maintain the same standards for photography and ad sales.

Included here is a copy of the two evaluation forms we use each production cycle. They are:

  • The portfolio assessment sheet: Completed by the staff member and submitted to me. In addition to the portfolio assessment form, staff members must also update their online portfolio of work. I give feedback at the bottom and a grade for that cycle before returning it to the staff member with the…
  • The performance evaluation sheet: Completed by the head editors (EIC and Managing Editors) for each staff member. There’s no grade on this one. Much more like a job evaluation, editors can indicate where expectations and standards are being met and which areas need improvement. This is useful for giving feedback on things like making deadlines, working with others, exhibiting professionalism, etc.

Both sheets are stapled together and returned to the staff member about a week after the end of each cycle. If a staff member has any questions, or if a staff member’s performance requires it, we may also have individual conferences.

I’ve provided the PDF version of the forms below (which are fillable PDF forms). If you’d like a copy of the inDesign files, feel free to email me directly.

Portfolio Assessment Sheet

Performance Evaluation Sheet

Michelle Balmeo

Michelle Balmeo, MJE, is the adviser of The Whirlwind, a reemerging news publication at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore. For 11 years prior to relocating to Oregon, she advised a media staff in the Silicon Valley. In her career, she has been selected as CA Journalism Teacher of the Year, a JEA Rising Star, and a DJNF Distinguished Adviser. She was formerly the JEA Web Curriculum Leader.

mlbalmeo has 40 posts and counting.See all posts by mlbalmeo

3 thoughts on “Assessing a crazy converged newsroom

  • October 19, 2011 at 5:10 am
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    Thanks, Michelle. I’m working on a post on accessing as well. It’s difficult to keep up with grading with the speed of an online publication, so I too have simplified my process.

  • August 1, 2012 at 7:50 am
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    Michelle – I love your assessment and evaluation sheets. But I am wondering how you get by without assessing the quality of work such as format, source, AP style, etc.? Would love to hear.
    Thanks for the great ideas!

  • August 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm
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    Hi, Laura. Thanks for your comment. Built into the process is an editing step that allows me to give feedback on their work while in progress. I don’t read everything, but I read a lot. Then, if their revisions are sub-standard, that comes through on their portfolio assessment (and in turn, in their grade). So far, it’s worked pretty well. Hope that helps!

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