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Sustainability Matters Blog

Innovation lessons for news media companies from Google, Apple, Pixar

25 October 2015 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

Fate had it that our company’s Innovation Lab was seeking new submissions at the same time we were to submit our annual S.M.A.R.T. goals for our departments and each employee. For anyone who has been working at least 10 years, no doubt you have heard of this goal-related acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

There are a few different variations on this, but all-in-all, the result is the same.

In 1954, Peter Drucker introduced the world to the concept of management by objectives with his book The Practice of Management. In the November 1981 issue of Management Review, George T. Doran introduced us to S.M.A.R.T. goals to motivate and help employees achieve their objectives.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are the ideal tool for functional managers to help them monitor their direct reports. Those goals become a good base for discussion during performance review time. They have been around for more than 30 years, and their effectiveness is proven.

But do S.M.A.R.T. objectives help an organisation drive innovation or generate new ideas?

Let’s look at the real needs of traditional media organisations today. Real, heart-stopping innovation is not “measured” nor is it “realistic” and certainly, for most folks, it’s not within the realm of “achievable” either! Lateral thinking requires a different mindset.

From S.M.A.R.T. to D.U.M.B. to H.A.R.D. goals

I have a love/hate relationship with mnemonics: They provide ...


25 publishers of Climate Publishers Network are a good start, but not enough

24 September 2015 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

Back in May 2015, 25 publishers from around the world united to create the Climate Publishers Network (CPN). The concept behind the CPN is, in essence, easy and free access to a large pool of content on climate change issues.

The idea is the brainchild of Alan Rusbridger, the outgoing editor-in-chief of The Guardian, in collaboration with El Pais’ editor-in-chief Antonio Cano as well as support and infrastructure from the Global Editors Network (GEN).

Why a Climate Publishers Network and why now?

The reason for the creation of this network is to promote and keep in the public eye the issue of climate change ahead of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Summit that will be held in Paris this fall from November 30 to December 11 of this year. Often shortened to COP21 (for Conference of all Parties, 21st edition), this summit will be important and significant.

Indeed, this particular conference’s objective is to achieve a legally binding agreement on climate by member countries – something not achieved in the past 20 years.

The ability to quickly and inexpensively exchange content and analysis (owned by each partner) on climate issues would give the participating media organisations enough material to keep their Web sites and newspapers filled with regular material without the hassle of royalties and licenses.

The GEN Web site explains:

“The Climate Publishers Network (CPN) will provide a mutual syndication of articles related to climate change free ...


7 key privacy principles for media companies

28 May 2015 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

This past April, The Globe and Mail hosted Dr. Cavoukian to talk about her landmark paper Privacy by Design. A short woman, she’s hard to see in a packed, standing room-only venue. However, within a few minutes, she captures her audience as she oozes positive energy and shows great enthusiasm on the subject of privacy.

Dr. Cavoukian is currently executor director of the Privacy & Big Data Institute of Ryerson University in Toronto (Canada). Prior to taking this post in 2014, she was the information and privacy commissioner for the province of Ontario (Canada) and held this position for three consecutive mandates.

During her time as commissioner, she produced hundreds of white papers on the subject of privacy. Her landmark paper ...


Gender studies: Women missing from powerful positions on mastheads

26 April 2015 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

On March 25, 2015, the Canadian Competition Bureau approved the sale of the Sun Media network, including 173 publications and digital properties, to Postmedia Network Inc., a media company that already had the largest newspaper footprint in Canada.

The data assembled about the masthead positions was gathered on April 2; the deal was closed on April 13.

The latest Labour Force survey from Statistics Canada (January 2015) pens the number of women as part of the labour force at 47%. As women are such an important part of the labour force ...


3 ways media organisations can celebrate Earth Day

01 April 2015 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

For those slightly confused, April 22, 2015, is Earth Day, which is the same around the world. Earth Hour was March 28, 2015; it is generally the last Saturday in March.

Earth Hour adapts itself to the local sunrise/sundown times. In Canada, Earth Hour was from 20:30 to 21:30. You may hear about Earth Month as well. Earth Month is more or less a loose term to extend Earth Day activities throughout the entire month and focus on sustainability challenges.

A fun fact

Earth Day will be 45 years old this year. Actually, the first Earth Day was celebrated also on April 22, but in 1970.

In these past 45 years, many non-governmental, private, and public organisations have worked hard developing the science to understand how our planet’s climate is changing – what is normal historically speaking and what seems like ...


Looking for the perfect privacy policy template for media publishers? Here it is

03 March 2015 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

Every time the subject of updating the privacy policy comes around, I try to find a quick hiding spot. As director of customer care, I was assigned the role of privacy advocate more than a year ago. I am one of 11 departmental advocates, and I also contribute to our privacy oversight committee that supports the chief privacy officer.

As part of customer service, I have the opportunity to have direct conversations with our readers and subscribers regularly. Our readers are passionate, smart, and vocal. As such, it’s important to use plain and clear language when redacting any documentation that will pertain to readers’ personal information.

As we stand now, privacy policies amongst media publishers have similarities but none follow a particular architecture.

With the objective of creating a privacy policy framework in mind, we reviewed five publishers and looked at their respective privacy policies in detail. We reviewed The Globe and Mail (updated December 2014), The Guardian (updated February 2015), the New York Times (updated December 2014), Fairfax Media (updated February 2014), and the South China Morning Post (last update unknown).

Based on the above mentioned publishers, here’s a solid construction plan media organisations can use to create a privacy policy from ...


Globe and Mail takes leading role toward greater advertising transparency

04 February 2015 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

On January 15, 2015, The Globe and Mail sent an e-mail to all its online subscribers and registered readers, alerting them about its new privacy policy, terms and conditions, and The Globe’s new online tool to opt out of targeting by interest-based advertisers.

The ability to deliver relevant editorial content is fundamental to any news organisation. You fail in that department and you basically don’t exist – or you won’t for long anyway.

Delivering relevant advertising, however, offers exciting new opportunities to engage and better serve the reader while uncovering potential issues regarding ...


Countless points of personal data offer benefits, challenges for media companies

08 January 2015 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

A well-known Canadian fashion reporter recently explained the difference between fashion and style: “Fashion is what you're offered. Style is what you choose.” Style, in other words, is unique to each one of us.

In our modern world, what we wear, what we share, and what we care about are now mere data points on the huge spectrum of infinite relationships, links, and permutations that represent a distinctive and discrete human being.

As publishers, we both collect and analyse a vast amount of data and monetise it in some form or other; we may improve our product offering or our customer service, make use of flexible pricing, or make our Web site behave differently.

Most Web sites’ basic data collection consists of a computer’s IP address and links it with time spent, articles read, games played, videos watched, and a few other hundred – if not thousands – of additional data points.

If a person comes to a site as a guest, the information collected is ...


Transparency, privacy issues surround Big Data growth

11 December 2014 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

In a promotional video for South by Southwest 2014 (SXSW), organisers talk about how fast transparency and privacy concerns have risen to top of mind for conference attendees.

One organiser claims that back in 2012, only two sessions dealt with privacy and that, in 2014, close to 30 sessions were being held on the subject.

Take a quick look at the SXSW 2015 Interactive agenda and we can see 17 sessions specifically on privacy are already planned.

Transparency and privacy are clearly different concepts, however it’s important to consider ...


Educating the next generation of sustainable media managers

09 November 2014 · By Andrée Gosselin O’Meara

In late October 2014, INMA announced a scholarship for the executive MBA programme of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

The programme is global not only in focus but also in its execution, as the classes are held in five different locations over the course of 24 months – such locations being “creative centres” as per the school’s Web site.

Kudos to INMA executives for such a progressive move!

Keeping one’s management skills sharp and current is more important than ever.

I recently went through such an exercise by focusing on ...


About this blog

As an industry we need to build resiliency not only to survive but to thrive. This blog will look at building resiliency through the lenses of sustainability. It will review common challenges, share best practices and provide practical ideas to implement and execute.

About the author

I am Andrée Gosselin O’Meara, director, customer care at The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada. I've worked on the business side of digital media since 2000 focusing on the marketing, product development (mainly tablets), strategy and now customer retention. In 2013, I completed research on corporate sustainability leaders in Canada as part of a Masters degree. I am also an active member of the company’s Green Team.

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