On October 29, INMA and Google News Initiative (GNI) awarded 50 news media professionals around the world with its debut Elevate Scholarship. This series features these impressive media professionals who are shaping our industry.
The road to the news industry has been a winding one for Abtin Salahshor, but he has enjoyed every step of the journey. He was still studying engineering when he launched a company designed to help start-ups grow, and that evolved into management consulting.
However, his deep interest in politics and media led him to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a growth analyst and wrote reports (including one for the Swedish prime minister) that helped him land at Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest daily newspaper.
Beginning as an intern, he worked his way into the role of full-time analyst, and he now works to provide more data-informed decision-making for the product and reader revenue teams.
“The aim is nothing less than creating a sustainable business model for quality journalism,” Salahshor said. “In one case, I made a retention analysis that led to an overhaul of our marketing spend toward channels where we get more loyal and profitable uses while reducing cost.”
That ultimately contributed to the scalable, almost zero-cost acquisition strategy that proved invaluable during the coronavirus crisis and led to massive growth in the subscription base compared with the previous year.
He wants to further develop his understanding of the new strategic realities facing the news media industry and play a role in creating new processes to tackle those challenges. In the face of global competition, declining media trust, and digital-first preferences, news media companies are changing.
“It forces news media to become leaner, more experimental, and scientific in trying out new things — all while preserving the quality of their core journalistic product,” he said. “I would love to be able to shape and implement some of these development processes.”
Salahshor is particularly eager to take on the challenge of declining trust in media and wants to work with journalists to find ways to highlight implicit biases while supplying the digital tools to help overcome them.
“As a technologist and engineer, I hope to bring a whole new set of ideas regarding how journalism could function — for example, related to data journalism and improving the statistical language in reporting,” he said. “I hope to bring fresh perspectives of my own, but also facilitate conversations about other perspectives we might be missing.”