NTM’s Jens Pettersson delights in the value of journalism

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, United States


Editor’s note: In an ongoing series, INMA is profiling our most engaged members — our super fans — to give members a chance to learn more about each other. Today we profile Jens Pettersson, head of editorial development for NTM in Uppsala, Sweden.

Jens Pettersson, head of editorial development for NTM in Uppsala, Sweden, is proud that NTM has been able to gather 450 journalists around one common idea: the value of journalism. In the past couple of years, the company has looked for practical ways to help its journalists better serve subscribers.

“In two years, we have increased by 45% our number of digital subscribers, while at the same time we increased total reader revenue and average revenue per customer,” Pettersson said. “To strengthen democracy and make good business at the same time is quite energising.”

To relax, Pettersson loves listening to great music, sipping a nice cabernet, and cooking for friends.

INMA recently caught up with him to learn more.

As head of editorial development for NTM in Uppsala, Sweden, Jens Pettersson creates relevant journalism and an attractive product — and finds it both fun and utterly challenging at the same time.
As head of editorial development for NTM in Uppsala, Sweden, Jens Pettersson creates relevant journalism and an attractive product — and finds it both fun and utterly challenging at the same time.

INMA: What big lesson have you learned over the past couple of years that helped shape your future plans?

Pettersson: The transformation for our business has been huge over the last decades. For me, personally, first going from print into digital, and secondly going into paid digital subscriptions, has meant a pervasive insight into the power of the customer. If we intend to become successful, we need to do everything sharply focused on the humans out there consuming (and those annoyingly not consuming) our journalism.

INMA: If you had your career to do over again, what would you want to know in the beginning?

Pettersson: That everything is gonna be all right. Always.

INMA: What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?

Pettersson: Meeting the eyes of my three kids. To say good morning, get an instant grip on the daily condition of them, and get those great warm hugs before the daily race begins.

INMA: What is the craziest job or project you’ve ever done in media — and what did you learn from it?

Pettersson: Back in the days when free printed papers like Metro were an excellent way of creating good advertising revenue, the board of my employer decided to start our own free paper, and I got assigned as editor.

We managed to get everything set up in 10 working days, from creating a newspaper design, setting up contracts with news agencies for national/international reporting, deals on cartoons and crosswords, and recruiting a small but supersharp newsroom. We bought used newspaper stands and deployed them all over the city faster than hyper-speed for Millennium Falcon in Star Wars. Learning? The word “impossible” has no place in my vocabulary.

INMA: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Pettersson: Be nice. It always pays off in the long run.

INMA: If you hadn’t gone into news media, what was your backup plan?

Pettersson: Become a superstar DJ. :) For 10 years I used to play records at nightclubs back in the ’90s. But unfortunately, I don’t think I was talented (or crazy) enough to become No. 1 in Ibiza. More seriously I was close to getting into the world of diplomacy. But it was too boring — so I chose journalism. A lot more fun.

INMA: What is your favourite thing to read?

Pettersson: Actually, I don’t read that much besides media industry press and columns from clever people like Thomas Baekdal or INMA’s own Grzegorz Piechota. When I get some free time in the evening I prefer to watch mostly classic TV series like the American masterpiece West Wing.

INMA: What do you find the most challenging/interesting about the news media industry right now?

Pettersson: The fight for trust and love from the audience. The competition for people’s time is fierce. Creating relevant journalism and an attractive product for a very demanding audience is both fun and utterly challenging at the same time.

About Paula Felps

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