Insights and growth: INMA reaches new heights in 2022

By Earl J. Wilkinson

International News Media Association (INMA)

Dallas, Texas, United States


After two years of a pandemic-driven shift to virtual engagement, INMA continued to build its insights stack in 2022: running six initiatives at scale that helped drive membership to record levels. 

In this blog post, I want to wrap up the year by spotlighting: 

  • What our first-ever effort to scale INMA initiatives has brought to the news industry and to our community: We see a slowing growth path for subscriptions as engagement wanes, product and data driving what’s next with personalisation, a repositioning of newsrooms closer to the business of news, and the blossoming of advertising beyond “advertising,” among others.  

  • How INMA is shifting from an ideas association to an insights association: We aim to redefine our impact and influence on the news industry, with one example being how subscription benchmarks show big differences in subscriber acquisition and retention. We now have experts on board in product, subscriptions, data, advertising, and newsrooms so you get more ideas and insights.  

  • The achievement of record-high membership, including the arrival of broadcasters, and how members are engaging with INMA: This means an evolving INMA community from which peer media companies can learn and benchmark — making the association highly different and unique in community makeup. This will challenge us to leverage the network’s knowledge amid a changing news ecosystem. INMA is more digital in its community than ever before.  

  • What INMA is delivering, curating, and rewarding: INMA produces more valuable content for media companies than any other news industry body. And members are engaging at a high level, often deep within companies. Media companies gravitate toward the trusted INMA community for awards and good works, such as aiding Ukrainian publishers.  

The impact of scalable initiatives 

For the first time, INMA conducted six initiatives, which galvanise association resources around topics and communities. Five of the initiatives were community-based: Readers FirstSmart DataProductAdvertising, and Newsroom. The sixth, the Digital Platform Initiative, continued to focus on the fast-developing Big Tech space. 

Throughout 2022 and continuing in 2023, INMA has six areas of focus, our initiatives, which offer deep looks at areas of importance to the news media industry.
Throughout 2022 and continuing in 2023, INMA has six areas of focus, our initiatives, which offer deep looks at areas of importance to the news media industry.

The effect of the scaled initiatives was apparent everywhere: newsletters, blogs, Webinars, World Congress, reports, master classes, and summits. INMA introduced Ask Me Anything sessions for corporate members, featuring initiative leads. We even launched a benchmark service for subscriptions. 

Combined, the initiatives pushed INMA further down the road of providing insights to the news media community. For 92 years, INMA has been an ideas association, largely emanating from members. Yet the initiatives this year helped expertly weave together these ideas into something more directional and original than in the past.

The net effect of these insights is having unintended, but positive, consequences as INMA members have rising expectations of what the network — when leveraged properly — can potentially deliver. 

So, what did we learn from the hundreds of contributions and engagements from our six initiatives? 

Looking within the initiative silos (which mirror how media companies are structured), I would say the core lessons this year included: 

  • Advertising Initiative: In a traditional view of advertising, where to draw the line between automation and human sales occupied the strategy of many media companies. Yet, less traditionally, how to monetise on the sideline of news brands rose, too: e-commerce, marketing services, and developing alternative ways to monetise, such as branded content, partnerships, and consultative selling.
  • Newsroom Initiative: Putting newsrooms at the center of the news business is a fast-rising trend at media companies, yet cultural inertia and reluctance to change continue to be  challenges. Data literacy and SEO embraces are among the victories in newsrooms that are evolving beyond reporters and editors. We also learned how to make journalism work in an ever-expanding definition of product — with new understanding of skills and teams from technology to data analysts to search specialists to service professionals to engineers to user experiences experts.
  • Product Initiative: Members showed us that building a great product means strengthening our qualitative and quantitative customer insights. And as product sits in the center of many organisations, or aims to, we found that solid goal structures such as North Star or OKRs go a long way to helping mitigate conflicting objectives. We also saw personalisation is increasing in importance.  
  • Readers First Initiative: In its fourth full year, the Readers First Initiative this year tracked the digital subscription continuous growth despite dwindling engagement with news Web sites. We discovered the intensification of aggressive pricing and bundling in subscription packages among the top media players. We documented the role of news cycles in subscriptions marketing and the need for publishers to be ready for the next big event — not only editorially but user experience, tech, data, product, and more. The Ukraine war was that “next big event,” and many publishers were ready — some not.
  • Smart Data Initiative: While I’ve never talked with media company leaders fully satisfied with their data, top publishers are moving beyond the “pipes and people” to make data more accessible and culturally embrace what it can do. Where data sits in a media company continues to be hotly debated. 

With our Digital Platform Initiative, we tracked efforts to gain content payment from Google and Facebook: some mirroring the regulatory/legislative playbook from Australia last year to a more copyright-focused effort in Europe. Meanwhile, ad tech legislative and regulatory efforts moved forward internationally. 

As interesting as these siloed views of communities and issues are for INMA members, something else happened organically in INMA this year: Members, board members, and our initiative leads began to look across the initiatives at topics of rising interest.

In September and October, for example, INMA released reports looking at personalisation both from product and data perspectives, a subject that grew as the year progressed at media companies. 

In December, INMA leveraged communities that stretch across at least three initiatives to zero in on what’s happening within Google search’s suite of surfaces and how newsrooms are optimising for search.  

INMA's initiative leads, meanwhile, had 107 one-on-one Ask Me Anything briefings with nearly half of corporate members.

What do we mean by “insights”?

For most of INMA’s history, we have been known as an ideas association. Members contribute best practices, and we put them out via our various distribution vehicles: a Web site, newsletters, events, and more. It is up to the member to do with the idea what they will — embrace it, reject it, ignore it. 

INMA Newsroom Initiative Lead Peter Bale (top center) recently led a master class on newsroom leadership.
INMA Newsroom Initiative Lead Peter Bale (top center) recently led a master class on newsroom leadership.

INMA’s initiatives represent a new insights layer whereby experts aim to take those ideas and summarise and visualise them, analyse and identify trends or patterns in the data and ideas, make predictions and test hypotheses together with members, and distill the findings and discuss potential avenues for further investigation. 

What you have seen in all six initiatives this year is the voice of media professionals grounded in expertise and experience. On the ground. In the street. Based on evidence, but rarely just a theory — mostly a practicality. And it comes to you via a layer of intelligence rarely seen in news industry associations and communities.  

What we are aiming for is more value for members, faster learning for members, leveraging deeper collective knowledge of our network, more relevance to decision-making, better decisions, and hopefully more successful media businesses — stronger brands, higher engagement, and financial sustainability, and, as a result, a stronger guarantee of editorial freedoms.

This is INMA’s path to becoming an insights association.  

Subscription Benchmark Service launches 

The height of insights this year came when INMA launched a Subscription Benchmark Service in conjunction with our Readers First Initiative and gained 51 inaugural participating companies — with detailed data from 160 news brands, six group engagements, and 114 sessions of one-on-one coaching from the INMA team.

INMA launched its Subscription Benchmark Service in 2022 and now has 51 participants.
INMA launched its Subscription Benchmark Service in 2022 and now has 51 participants.

The insights from this INMA service are extraordinary, as we have discovered big differences in performance among members in acquiring and retaining subscribers. For example, a median brand sold 330 digital-only subscriptions per 1 million online users last quarter. The best 25% performers were selling double of that number, and the worst 25% performers were selling only half of it.  

As the year progressed, we engaged data scientists and marketing experts in unveiling insightful subscriber funnel visualisations and subscription forecasts for participants so they can easily spot the bottlenecks and plan budgets.  

Membership hits record high 

In large part due to the energy from these initiatives, INMA continued its multi-year rise in membership in 2022. Corporate members grew 21% to 190 this year, while the number of people tied to memberships increased 5% to 20,435. This included 35 new corporate members.

INMA added 111 new corporate members during the pandemic.
INMA added 111 new corporate members during the pandemic.

To put this membership growth in perspective, INMA has garnered 111 new corporate members during the pandemic years of 2020-2022 — roughly 58% of today’s total membership. That’s a lot of growth in a short period of time.

Thousands of members each year use INMA’s Member Directory to connect with each other — a database that allows to filter by a person’s area of expertise and interest, professional focus, media type, size of company, world region, and more.

How members are responding

The INMA membership community has responded, too. 

Across 76 events in 2022, 10,689 people registered, 4,895 attended livestreams, and that represented 3,153 unique people — including 2,156 INMA members.

Here’s a breakdown of some of those activities:  

  • 2,826 members registered for at least one of INMA’s 60 Webinars this year, with 5,751 in total. About half who registered attended the livestreams, while the other half watched the Webinar recordings available to all members.  
  • 788 members registered for at least one of INMA’s nine master classes, with 1,099 in total registrations.
  • 1,868 professionals participated in INMA’s four virtual regional summits for Africa, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, and South Asia. 
  • 781 members engaged with INMA’s two signature global conferences, the World Congress of News Media and Media Subscriptions Summit. In fact, the Subscriptions Summit set an attendance record — albeit by one delegate (we’ll take it). 
  • 2,785 members downloaded at least one of INMA’s nine reports, including 5,171 downloads in total. 

Can we get back to what INMA was known for pre-pandemic, conferences and study tours?  

INMA Executive Director/CEO Earl J. Wilkinson gives a presentation at INMA's first in-person conference since the pandemic, Media Innovation Week in Copenhagen in September.
INMA Executive Director/CEO Earl J. Wilkinson gives a presentation at INMA's first in-person conference since the pandemic, Media Innovation Week in Copenhagen in September.

The first flickers of in-person activities since 2020 came when INMA’s South Asia and Europe division boards met earlier this year. INMA’s International Board met in New York in June — punctuated by a mini-study tour and a dinner for Manhattan media companies.  

In September, INMA set an attendance record for its European News Media Conference in Copenhagen, part of Media Innovation Week — by 30%! It was a remarkable return to in-person events.

Broadcasters joining INMA 

INMA’s membership community has evolved over the past decade, and there is a development from 2022 worth noting. 

From a newspaper media heritage, INMA has attracted magazine media and digital media in recent years. Yet in the past year, INMA has begun attracting broadcasters as members — television mostly but also radio, both public and private. As we look to grow in Africa, we know broadcasters often are the dominant media genre in countries. 

The feedback from these new members is this: The moment for digital transformation is upon them, and they want to engage peers who have plowed this ground through INMA.

Who are we as a community?

There are no major changes to the makeup of INMA this year, though the snapshot is worth mentioning. 

INMA is a community of 20,435 professionals at 901 companies in 86 countries.

INMA members sliced by region and professional focus.
INMA members sliced by region and professional focus.

We are a majority minority community with no region or profession dominating: 

  • Regional: Europe (42%) and North America (29%) are where most members reside. Yet we have sizable numbers of members in Latin America (9%), the South Pacific (6%), East Asia (5%), Africa (2%), and the Middle East (1%). 
  • Professional: Our professions span newsrooms (18%), leadership (14%), audience (12%), advertising (11%), product (11%), marketing (11%), business intelligence (8%), and beyond. 

It should be noted that 2022 represented INMA’s second full year of an Africa initiative that encourages a pan-Africa media network and connects African media companies to peers around the world. INMA conducted four African Webinars in addition to our third-annual virtual summit that, in total, engaged 593 professionals.

INMA’s deliverables 

INMA’s commitment to leveraging our international network continued unabated as we posted 800+ blogs and circulated our 17 newsletters 195 times. Most of those blog contributions came from INMA member media companies who continue to share their experiences with peers. 

In 2022, INMA produced nine strategic reports, which are free to members.
In 2022, INMA produced nine strategic reports, which are free to members.

Our nine reports produced in 2022 focused on three core themes while teasing others:





Curating and archiving

INMA does not lack for content. If anything, we produce too much for our members — a badge we embrace: 

  • INMA Knows: A subject matter distillation project thus far covering 21 subjects, INMA Knows is an invaluable tool to quickly scan the best of what INMA produces on key subjects. We added fewer new categories, yet we continue to update the ones we have now. 
  • INMA Recommends: In early 2022, we launched INMA Recommends, an aggregation of what our editors consider the best news industry reports outside of INMA. Quirky and irreverent, we identified 22 reports to be the best and brightest. 

INMA produces plentiful and deep content, curated in several formats available to members.
INMA produces plentiful and deep content, curated in several formats available to members.

  • Newsletters: We cut back on some newsletters for which we didn’t produce content or generate enough subscribers, but we ended the year with 17 topical and regional newsletters. Some 2,050 members today subscribe to at least one of these 17 newsletters. 
  • Best Practices: We added 854 entries from this year’s Global Media Awards competition to this visual- and text-rich archive that now numbers 7,257 best practices from the past decade. 
  • Headlines: One of the “hidden gems” of INMA, our Headlines service — which you see in our daily and weekly newsletters — is more powerful when filters are applied. We monitor Web sites for news industry developments of most importance. We added 1,566 headlines this year. 
  • Presentations: We added 290 presentations from INMA conferences, summits, master classes, town halls, and Webinars this year — a veritable gold mine. We now have 2,922 presentations available for you. 

What INMA rewards

INMA generated 854 entries from countries in its Global Media Awards, eventually selecting 60 first place recipients amid 332 finalists — including McClatchy’s Miami Herald nabbing Best of Show for House of Cards. The awards, which have presented since 1937, overlaid INMA’s five community-based initiatives: product, data, subscriptions, newsrooms, and advertising, among others. Alas, we remained in pandemic mode for a third straight year, yet Jamaica’s Terri-Karelle Reid delivered a virtual performance with aplomb.

The Miami Herald won Best of Show for its House of Cards project at this year's INMA Global Media Awards.
The Miami Herald won Best of Show for its House of Cards project at this year's INMA Global Media Awards.

INMA continued its commitment to rewarding outstanding young professionals and providing training opportunities for under-represented groups: 

  • 30 Under 30 Awards: Organised by INMA’s Young Professionals Initiative committee, 30 professionals under 30 years old were selected in September for training opportunities. These are news media’s future leaders — and my future bosses. 
  • Elevate Scholarships: Supported by the Google News Initiative, the Elevate Scholarships entered their third year with 50 professionals gaining access to INMA training — training that is often out of reach to key demographics that have much to contribute to the news industry. These were announced in December. 

Meanwhile, INMA announced in September the launch of a scholarship programme for Ukrainian publishers devasted by war. We have been working with the Ukrainian Media Fund to launch this next year, and we are deeply touched by the warm reaction by peer publishers not only in Europe but around the world.

Partnered projects 

INMA partnered this year with the Google News Initiative and the Meta Journalism Project on activities that delivered great value for the news industry and for INMA members. 

With Google, INMA partnered for the third year on the European Subscriptions Academy (with FT Strategies), and this culminated with an INMA Media Subscriptions Town Hall that drew 1,163 participants from 89 countries. A global publisher sustainability project and trainings focused on reader revenue, audience, and advertising 1,455 professionals in the Philippines and India also were highlights this year. 

With Meta, INMA created a series of extended reality (XR) trainings for newsrooms in Europe, Taiwan, and India that introduced new technologies and use cases in this fast-moving space. Combined, the trainings connected with 632 professionals.

Our volunteer network 

INMA today has 118 volunteers serving on 11 boards and committees, our hidden army that guides everything we do:    

Governing board 

Regional boards and committees

Community committees

Beyond these volunteer leaders, INMA today has 50+ regular bloggers who contribute their ideas and insights — unprecedented in the news industry.

Our team

INMA’s professional staff continued to grow in size and responsibilities this year. 

The INMA team now includes 29 professionals spanning administration, regional management, subject matter expertise, and editorial — six of whom are new this year. We have been in a virtual environment since 2009, so we are long accustomed to being a team connected via Zoom. 

It’s been said that INMA does a lot with a little, yet our forefathers might be amazed to have so many quality people dedicated to this sprawling international network.


2022 marked Year 3 of the pandemic era — and, hopefully, the final year in which members will mostly be physically separated from each other. 

INMA maximised the pandemic playbook with unprecedented virtual engagements. We are reaching more members, and a larger swath of the news industry, than at any moment in our more than nine-decade history. 

Yet operating six initiatives — at scale — represented our signature achievement this year. They are delivering insights and network effects that are changing fortunes at news media companies.

And that’s what INMA wants to do: make a difference for a rapidly transforming news industry.

It’s been a fantastic 2022. Thank you for being a part of the amazing journey of the International News Media Association.

About Earl J. Wilkinson

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.