Webinar held on 10 March 2021, 15:00 - 16:30 CET during CIRCOM's Learning From A Global Pandemic week-long programme of interactive Zoom sessions, 8 - 12 March 2021

Digital change is coming to our newsrooms, whether we are ready for it or not. Audiences are finding new ways to access content. So how do we make sure we remain part of their lives through this change? In this session, journalist and trainer Mia Costello was joined by Anton Svendsen and Christina Johannesson from Swedish broadcaster SVT, Xavier Collombier from France Télévisions, and Alexandre Pletser from RTBF in Belgium.

Change is not easy to implement, and there is inevitably resistance from staff within news organisations. Anton Svendsen described in vivid detail the reaction of his team at SVT when he announced the plan to change 10 years ago: “We had a big morning meeting and I said OK, so now we need to focus on Online. And then people were crossing their arms, they were looking up to the sky, some people even left the room. I was banging my head, I said I want to work in public service for the rest of my life, and I’m pretty convinced if we don’t make this digital change I will be out of a job, we will all be out of a job in 10 years.

Dealing with this culture change at SVT was the job of Christina Johannessen, who had to help the team understand their changing roles in the organisation: “We wanted to develop a leadership style that empowers and think of the leaders as facilitators more than commanding leaders that tell everyone what to do.” So involving everyone in the transformation stimulated a better outcome.

Xavier Collombier described similar resistance in France, but the message was clear: “They had no choice, we need to do this. If you don’t like it, maybe you should do something else.

Across the world of news broadcasting, the change has been coming for a while, and different broadcasters across Europe are at different stages of the transition, but this session highlighted that for most of them it has certainly been accelerated by the pandemic.