JUST RELEASED: New report details practical ways media companies are using GenAI, click here to download

4 news publishers share how they prioritised a readers-first approach

By Yuki Liang


New York, New York, United States


By Ijeoma S. Nwata


Baltimore, Maryland, United States


The way that news media companies reach out to their audiences is changing.

Last week, attendees members heard how four companies moved into the digital world and developed their readers-first approach to editorial during INMA’s Media Subscriptions Summit, sponsored by AdvantageCSChargebeeChartbeatGoogleFT StrategiesPianoUnited RobotsWordPress VIP, and Zuora

Göteborgs-Posten reaches new audiences with podcast

Christofer Aslqvist, editor-in-chief of Sweden’s Göteborgs-Posten, said his team navigated the brand’s digital transformation by prioritising the interests of its readers. It added more digital elements, including a mobile option, and cultivated a cross-disciplinary approach to its storytelling.

The company also looked at ways to reach new audiences — such as through releasing its investigative podcast, Systrar. The six episodes centred on the commonality of prostitution amongst young, middle-class Swedish girls. 

“With this story, we wanted to reach out to young women,” Aslqvist said.

Göteborgs-Posten developed a cross-functional team for the rollout of its podcast, Systrar.
Göteborgs-Posten developed a cross-functional team for the rollout of its podcast, Systrar.

Göteborgs-Posten used a cross-functional team to distribute, market, and support the rollout and release of the story. In addition to the investigative podcast that heard directly from young girls who had been victimised by prostitution, the team worked together to create the following: 

  • A custom-designed Web site with extra material behind a paywall. 
  • Tailored content for broader reach and acquisition of new subscribers. 
  • Curated visuals for a targeted audience across channels including social media. 
  • Unique marketing that used journal entries from some of the girls to create a physical book that was sent to influencers and elected officials. 

The cross-functionality of the team and storytelling reached underserved audiences and captured more than 1,000 new subscribers. The podcast surpassed over 700,000 plays, with nearly 70% comprising women under the age of 35. 

Stampen Media renews focus on journalism

Hanna Mansson, head of B2C at Stampen Media, said its reader-first commitment is reflected in the tagline it introduced in 2019: “Deliver journalism that matters.” This tagline became a cornerstone for both internal motivation and customer engagement, setting a standard for accountability and excellence in journalism. 

This initiative marked a pivotal shift in how Stampen Media positioned itself, with a renewed focus on journalism and journalists leading its marketing efforts. This approach underscored the importance of aligning with a shared vision and the role of collaboration. 

Mansson said a significant aspect of achieving alignment is the active involvement of leadership. Leaders must not only endorse collaboration but actively promote it. By putting collaboration at the forefront, leaders help ensure that the organisation’s values are not just stated but actively expressed and practised. 

An emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaboration was another pivotal element of Stampen Media’s approach to alignment. By forming teams that span various disciplines — such as product owners, designers, journalists, and developers — it leverages diverse perspectives to enhance its journalism.

This cross-functional approach is illustrated through initiatives like investigative podcasts and custom-designed Web sites, showcasing how collaboration across disciplines can lead to innovative and impactful journalism. 

“The actual alignment work had to happen every day, by many of us becoming parrots,” Masson said. “Because getting people in the same room does not necessarily lead to alignment, but it tends to shed light on areas where alignment isn’t present, so it becomes actionable.” 

Advance Local creates in-house reader surveys

When Ann Poe, senior vice president of digital consumer revenue at Advance Local, wanted to collect reader data, she didn’t hire a third-party vendor. Instead, she relied on “smart marketers and data people” to survey readers and “to save our company some dollars.”

Her small team, including Consumer Research director Dan Christ, controlled expense by taking on the work of designing and executing surveys themselves. They also leveraged marketing expertise of internal teammates and utilised an existing survey panel platform.

Some surveys included an online newspaper study and customer satisfaction surveys, asking readers their likes/dislikes and what features they regularly used. Advance Local used insights to improve the online newspaper experience, then surveyed the same readers 10 months later and found improved satisfaction.

Advance Local created online surveys to track the change in readers' satisfaction of the online newspaper features.
Advance Local created online surveys to track the change in readers' satisfaction of the online newspaper features.

Between 500 to 700 subscribers receive monthly customer satisfaction surveys, with an average of 70% indicating they are very satisfied or satisfied with their subscription. This is encouraging because higher satisfaction correlates highly with higher customer lifetime value and higher 13-month retention rate, Poe said.

Poe highlighted a promising piece of data that revealed readers are willing to pay to support local journalism and offered their reasons via open-text comments. 

To ensure readers can continue to support local journalism, Poe paid attention to the feedback about cancelling subscriptions. Some call centres handle cancellations, yet 90% of readers want a self-cancellation option. To become more reader-centric, Poe said they launched a new version of the online cancellation form to understand the pain points of readers better and mitigate the outcome. 

The new cancellation process was built in-house to capture as much information as possible about why readers seek to cancel their subscription, and to use those insights to aid in marketing and editorial decision-making. 

La Repubblica focuses on 3 priorities for digital transformation

In 1997, La Repubblica, an Italian daily, launched its journey to embrace the digital-first landscape. Fillippo Davanzo, head of digital at La Repubblica and magazines at the GEDI Group in Italy, said it began by venturing online. By 2017, it had embraced a digital premium model, leading to a comprehensive digital-first strategy by 2019.

La Repubblica launched its digital-first journey in 1997 and rolled out its comprehensive digital-first strategy in 2019.
La Repubblica launched its digital-first journey in 1997 and rolled out its comprehensive digital-first strategy in 2019.

La Repubblica’s transition to a digital-first mindset required a shift in organisational culture. Among the challenges it had to overcome were the mindset of journalists, who didn’t believe in the quality or value of digital; an outdated production process, which didn’t fit the pace and demands of digital news production; and developing a business model that balanced subscriptions and advertising models to support the digital transformation.    

To navigate the challenges of transforming into a digital-first newsroom, La Repubblica implemented several innovative work solutions to achieve a successful digital transition.

Davanzo identified the three key solutions as:

1. Build trust: To bridge the gap between journalists and their audience, La Repubblica introduced an audience team within the newsroom to help the newsroom understand reader preferences, behaviours, and feedback. This ensures the content produced is aligned with audience interests and demands.

2. Increase digital literacy: A comprehensive training program enhanced the digital skills of all employees, from journalists to administrative staff. This allowed every team member to contribute to the digital-first strategy effectively.

3. Creating a digital mindset: Real-time dashboards provide journalists and staff with immediate insights into the performance of their content, including Web traffic and subscription metrics. This transparency encourages a data-driven approach to content creation and strategy adjustment.

About the Authors

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.