INMA leans into a challenging 2023 news industry environment

By Maribel Perez Wadsworth


McLean, Virginia, United States


News media leaders will be challenged in 2023 to keep long-term business model priorities atop their agendas amid the swirling short-term dynamics of pandemic tailwinds and economic headwinds.

As volunteer president of the International News Media Association (INMA), I chair a Board of Directors that has carefully crafted an agenda to address the needs of publishers amidst uncertainty. In this blog post, I want to distill the feedback of our Board and how INMA intends to execute that plan

As you know, INMA is the news industry’s most vibrant and diverse global association: 20,000+ members across nearly 1,000+ companies in 86 countries. Our member companies today reflect newspaper media, magazine media, television media, radio media, and digital media — as well as solution partners that support this ecosystem. At different speeds and different stages, we are all morphing into a digital ecosystem that will look very different in 2030 than it does today

INMA’s focus is on making sure that quality journalism has an economically viable business model to support it many decades into the future. How can media companies create value for shareholders while bolstering society?  

One of INMA's areas of long-term focus is in audience mastery, which includes many media teams: subscription, data, product, tech, and content.
One of INMA's areas of long-term focus is in audience mastery, which includes many media teams: subscription, data, product, tech, and content.

Long-term focus

Broadly, this means a long-term focus on:

  • Audience mastery: Becoming more audience-focused with engagement, user experience, and monetisation models that require a mastery of the busiest intersection in news media: subscription, data, product, tech, and content. Incredibly, we remain at the beginning of this complicated journey. 

  • Advertising support: Advertising remains very important in all media business models. The regulatory environment demands publishers accelerate their efforts to safeguard user experience and consumer privacy while creating meaningful points of connection between advertisers and publishers’ high-quality audiences. We remain a bit behind as an industry and are playing catch-up. 

  • Diversifying the business model: Diversifying beyond traditional reader/advertiser business models and making those models accessible up and down the news media industry. E-commerce and sports betting stand out as examples that are high-interest and high-growth for news publishers.     

INMA has chosen to confront these challenges across six initiatives for 2022-2023: Readers First, Product, Smart Data, Newsroom, Advertising, and Digital Platform. All of these initiatives leverage the collective knowledge of the INMA global network as well as distill and prioritise subjects of interest toward the broader goals of our Board of Directors.  

Short-term challenges

While keeping an eye on the long-term trends, this year will pose unique challenges that will bend each of these stories to new realities. 

In legacy print media, we know that rising costs around newsprint — scarcity and distribution — will not only be a cost challenge but also, potentially, a development that may shrink the print runway. For all our diversification away from print in recent years, today’s cost crisis is a sobering reality of our continued reliance on print to pay journalism’s bills. 

We also know that the digital transformation moment is here for broadcasters worldwide. 

This year will include a big focus on the economy and how that affects what readers are willing to spend on media.
This year will include a big focus on the economy and how that affects what readers are willing to spend on media.

For 2023, INMA is watching four big issues: 

  • Share of wallet: The effect of consumers tightening their wallets, which could impact subscription growth plans for many media companies. What must publishers do to influence value perception to support their growth trajectories? 

  • Rise of advertising: How publishers lean further into a more hybrid business model approach, re-prioritising and re-balancing for advertising revenue. This is probably healthier, but it also has implications for user experience that could have greater negative impact on subscriptions if not done right. 

  • Big Tech: The legislative, regulatory, and settlement space between news media companies and the Big Tech platforms. What are the implications for Meta’s all-but-exit from the news space? In the global interconnectivity of this issue, what are the effects of legislation advances worldwide — even as they appear stalled in the United States? 

  • How leaders respond: Will c-suites around the world use the proverbial opportunity of economic contraction to make structural cutbacks? Will they continue prioritising the “busy intersection”? Will they continue tilting their companies toward people-focused continual learning? Or will they behave as past economic contraction and cut into bone? 

Our focus in 2023

Given this environment and the initiative-based way in which INMA is programming for 2023, here is our rough focus

Advertising Initiative

  • First-party data for advertising: from architecture to sales.
  • Advertising automation.
  • Increasing “advertising” revenue diversification.

Digital Platform Initiative 

  • The emergence of content payment templates for antitrust and copyright solutions.

  • The impact of litigation against ad tech. 

  • Digital services laws to see the opening up of operating systems, app stores, and payment options.

Newsroom Initiative

  • How newsrooms should be organised to work with product, data, and audience.

  • How to gain, regain, and measure trust. 

  • How newsrooms can most effectively support subscription, advertising, and other business models. 

Product Initiative

  • Leading and supporting content innovation.

  • Personalising all aspects of news products.

  • Product and technology partnerships.

Readers First Initiative

  • Digital subscriptions shift from volume to value.

  • New subscription segments.

  • Organising for subscription growth.

Smart Data Initiative

  • Testing: How, what, and the culture behind it.

  • The growth of the data team.

  • AI and the products built from data and machine learning.

The Board has provided feedback to the INMA team that, beyond a silo approach, there are opportunities across our six initiatives. Our reports on personalisation in late 2022 were great examples of this, and AI cuts across these initiatives, too. 

INMA's Subscription Benchmark Service is starting its second year.
INMA's Subscription Benchmark Service is starting its second year.

Our Subscription Benchmark Service will enter its second year in 2023. With a growing number of participating publishers — 160+ and counting — the benchmark service affords access to data and results of a wide range of companies, offering invaluable insights for measuring success and optimising business results.

Meanwhile, INMA continues to partner with Google on projects related to content management systems (CMS) and publisher sustainability, among others. 

Training and development plans for 2023

You are likely aware of INMA’s amazing pandemic story:

  • Virtualising and scaling training and development.

  • Embracing member engagement at an unprecedented level 

INMA didn’t cut back … we expanded. This led to a 50% growth in corporate members and a 95% increase in people tied to those memberships. 

Early in the pandemic, these big bets helped transform INMA into the world’s largest press association

As we leave the worst aspects of the pandemic, we are engineering INMA’s return to in-person events. We held our first such conference and study tour in Copenhagen in September 2022, and we were met with record attendance. 

INMA's return to in-person events happened in September at Media Innovation Week in Copenhagen with a record number of attendees.
INMA's return to in-person events happened in September at Media Innovation Week in Copenhagen with a record number of attendees.

For 2023, we aim to reboot many of our physical conferences and study tours, while maintaining our virtual master classes and Webinars centered on our five community-based initiatives. 

The in-person events will be:

We also will launch The Roundtable at Vail August 23-25, an invitation-only CEO strategy retreat. 

We promise each of these in-person events will represent world-class programming and experiences that only being together can bring. 

Meanwhile, we will keep virtual four regional summits this year: Asia/Pacific, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. 

We will conduct five of our popular virtual master classes that mirror our five community-based initiatives: Digital Advertising, Product Innovation, Subscriptions Growth, Smart Data, and Newsroom Innovation.

And we will maintain our active Webinar lineup. The 50+ global Webinars, which are free to members,  will focus on our community-focused initiatives — subscriptions, product, data, newsrooms, and advertising — while we layer on Webinars for members in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. 

A continuous learning environment

We hear often from members that INMA has created an impactful learning environment for their people. We want to double down on that environment this year


The Global Media Awards competition (deadline: January 27) will continue to underscore INMA priorities: news brands, media features, product, subscriptions, advertising, data and insights, and newsrooms. This will be punctuated with an awards dinner May 26 at the Harvard Club in New York. 

Our Young Professionals Initiative Committee aims to produce the fourth annual “30 Under 30” Awards competition, which spotlights the next generation of media leaders and provides them access to INMA training tools.

INMA’s Elevate Scholarships will again be presented to professionals from under-represented groups. 

Throughout all of these initiatives and our training plans, INMA will provide access to key Ukrainian publishers via a scholarship programme in 2023 in partnership with the Ukrainian Media Fund.


INMA’s reports are second-to-none in the news industry, and we aim to focus on newsletters, AI, where subscriptions go next, product innovation, newsroom innovation, and what’s happening in the Big Tech space.

INMA's archive includes almost 3,000 presentations from all of INMA's virtual and in-person events.
INMA's archive includes almost 3,000 presentations from all of INMA's virtual and in-person events.

Access to ideas

INMA’s evergreen ideas ecosystem provides ongoing inspiration to news media professionals: 

  • Blogs: 700+ blog posts delivered via our daily and weekly newsletters. The overwhelming majority of these blog posts come from INMA members, along with subject matter experts and our initiative leads. This is a mix of ideas and insights. 

  • Best Practices: By end of this year, our Best Practices multi-media archive will contain 8,000+ sortable best practices via the Global Media Awards competition. 

  • Headlines: INMA will continue monitoring news media industry headlines and delivering them to you daily (the sortable archive also is invaluable). 

  • Presentations: By year’s end, we will have nearly 3,000 presentations from INMA conferences, study tours, master classes, and Webinars available to you – sortable by topic, event, year, and more. 

  • INMA Recommends: We remain committed to our INMA Recommends distillation of the best news industry reports outside of INMA.

Access to people

Nothing beats a hallway conversation at an INMA conference. Yet another way to build your network and make connections is through our online Member Directory. This is sortable by region, media genre, professional focus, and areas of expertise and interest. If the directory can’t make the connection you’re seeking, ask the INMA team for guidance. 


INMA does not suffer for lack of content. In fact, we are well aware that — like many of our member companies — it can all look overwhelming 

To that end, we have created multiple ways to curate the INMA universe:

  • Newsletters: We have 17 topic- and geography-focused newsletters that can be extraordinary prompts and distillations. 

  • INMA Knows: At INMA Knows, We have 21 key topics for which INMA has expertise and rallied the best for your perusal. We update this during the year. 

  • Search: We have created a robust search functionality, along with tools that allow you to drill down into precisely what you want. 


INMA will continue to be the indispensable community in 2023 for news media companies reinventing themselves for the Digital Age. We aim to shrink the time it takes to pivot to and thrive in a digital world. 

We will double-down, not cut back, even in the face of an economic slowdown. We will continue to listen to members. We will meet you on your field of choice – in-person or virtual, at the office or home. 

There is extraordinary value in a global community like INMA. We are led by a fantastic Board of Directors and supported by regional boards and community councils. We have a first-class professional team that continues to grow as the needs of the INMA community grow. We are an active community with hundreds of people contributing to INMA’s success 

INMA will lean into the challenges ahead. We will keep investing in the future sustainability of an increasingly digital news industry. We are committed to your success. 

And if we don’t say it enough … thanks for your ongoing support of INMA!

About Maribel Perez Wadsworth

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