Organizing journalists into semi-permanent, thematic teams can be beneficial if certain limits are taken into account, writes Stephanie Grubenmann, of University of St. Gallen. The author conducted 13 interviews at a Swiss newspaper, which is using a so-called matrix organization to cover the current migrant crisis.
In a journalistic context the matrix organization gathers journalists from different editorial departments to cover a single theme, parallel to duties at their respective departments. Unlike project teams, these cross-beat teams usually produce a stream of autonomously directed journalistic products, rather than a predefined unit of output. This leeway is, according to Grubenmann, one of the qualifying conditions that make the matrix organization viable.
The author provides an overlook of the pros and cons of the matrix organizational model. For example, the use of cross-beat teams is resource-intensive, but able to better utilize the existing expertise within the entire organization. Many interviewees also experienced the matrix form of collaboration to be highly motivational.
The article Matrix organisation was published by the journal Journalism Practice. It is available online (abstract free).
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