Since VilaWeb is a new company, it can impose this system easily. It does not
encounter problems with intellectual or financial property rights, as might be the
case for traditional media companies. Moreover, journalists know they are working
for different formats.
The database is the centre of the newsroom organisation. It enables content to be
published directly on the net. There is no end editor checking all texts before
publishing. Quality control of VilaWeb texts is done ex ante. Every Tuesday, they
have an editorial meeting with all the journalists not the local correspondents to
discuss everything that was published during the last week. Additionally, VilaWeb
employs a teleworker a retired journalist living in the countryside who has access
to all published articles. He is head of style, he reads everything that is published
and he can change things immediately, if necessary. He comes every Thursday with
a report on what happened and then explains, for instance, why he changed a
Content produced by journalists in the VilaWeb model is different from traditional
media content. The focus is more on indicating where the news is than on reporting
the news itself. In contrast with traditional journalism, it is believed that users are
equipped to read the sources for themselves and to interpret the information
directly. A typical news item therefore consists of links to the various versions of a
story, for instance the link to the official government position on it, to different
alternative reports, and to other media who are covering it as well.
Though it is different from traditional journalism, the spirit that drives the search for
news and gives the readers the tools to interpret it remains, and the Net is still used
in a journalistic format. A typical example consists of a regular public chat session
with well known personalities (e.g. mayors, ministers, sports people, etc.). In this
virtual press conference , the users themselves are the journalists. They can ask
questions, after having accepted a series of rules of debate laid down by the VilaWeb
editorial board. These press conferences are organised in collaboration with other
media. The day after, the personality would be interviewed on a local radio station
and a summary of the online debate would be published in a newspaper. In the past,
this was done in collaboration with COM Radio and with Vangardia , the biggest
Sunday newspaper in Catalunya. .
VilaWeb continually looks for ways to build bridges between the Internet and the
traditional media. VilaWeb journalists provide articles under the VilaWeb name to a
major weekly magazine called Presensia (with more than 100.000 readers), feature
a weekly radio programme (L Internauta) on Catalunya Radio , and have made short
documentaries for local television stations. Various other newspapers publish the
periodical user surveys of the VilaWeb local editions.
All these initiatives contribute to maintaining the brand. Sometimes they are
dropped, however, as was the case with the documentary programme for a local TV
station. It was made by their journalists with a mini camcorder, but was not seen as
successful. It was a form of regular television and therefore not very innovative.
That is why we have now come up with the text tv initiative (Cf. infra).
The company also takes care of the websites of certain local Catalan newspapers.
Some of them, for example El Punt Digital , have closed down their own sites and
are now offering their online version under the VilaWeb brand. The incentive for
23. Vicent Partal also teaches and co ordinates a Master Programme in Digital Communication and
Journalism at the Facultat de Comunicacio Blanquerna, Barcelona.