Editorial leaders talk news fatigue, opportunities in a big news year

By Amalie Nash


Denver, Colorado, United States


More than 650 media executives from around the world converged on London for INMA’s World Congress of News Media to talk about AI, digital subscriptions, news fatigue, and much more. On the main stage as the programming got underway, the audience was asked to vote in a poll on the topics they deemed most important to cover at World Congress.

Ranked No. 2: Newsroom transformation. 

It was rated second of 11 options, ranging from advertising/commercial initiatives to business transformation, audio initiatives, revenue diversification and more. (Ranked No. 1: AI in the newsroom.)

As INMA’s Newsroom Transformation Initiative lead, my ears perked up that newsroom transformation was so highly ranked. And in conversations with media executives all week, some of the same themes emerged that we’ve been talking about in the initiative: cultural change, turning data into insights, and surfacing best practices from other companies.

I also had an opportunity to host a workshop on newsroom transformation, featuring four leading journalists who are innovating and tackling important challenges, such as how to bring in younger readers and break down silos within organisations. I’ll provide some takeaways from our panel discussion in this week’s newsletter.

Another topic we heard a lot about: user needs. And that’s the subject of the next Webinar for the initiative, planned for Wednesday, May 8. Join me and two leading experts — Lars K. Jensen, team lead audience for Berlingske Media, and Roy Wassink, insights manager at DPG Media NV, to talk all about the user needs model. INMA members get free access, so register now!

And reach me anytime: amalie.nash@inma.org


Editorial leaders on navigating the 2024 media landscape

We covered a lot of ground during a panel discussion at the Newsroom Transformation workshop, where I was joined by Ros Atkins, a broadcast journalist with the BBC and author of Ex-plan-ation; Edward Roussel, head of digital at The Times and The Sunday Times in the UK; Rochell Bishop Sleets, managing editor of Newsday in the United States; and Rodrigo Muzell, digital journalist manager of Grupo RBS in Brazil. 

Ros Atkins, a broadcast journalist with the BBC and author of Ex-plan-ation.
Ros Atkins, a broadcast journalist with the BBC and author of Ex-plan-ation.

Some takeaways and highlights:

  • The biggest news event they’re preparing for this year? The elections, of course.

  • How big of an issue is news fatigue? “It’s a huge issue,” Atkins said, noting that getting people to turn to the news is a much more pronounced challenge than it once was. About 40% of people in Britain identify as news avoiders, Roussel said, adding that he thinks context is important to getting people more engaged with news.

  • Beyond news avoidance, what is the industry’s biggest challenge? Atkins: Providing context, while also understanding how to provide it in a world where people spend less time with news. Muzell: Making money. Roussel: The business model. Sheets: Agreed, noting the decline of local journalism in the United States and the implications of that.

  • How do we spend less time with legacy platforms — newspapers or broadcast shows — to spend more time on digital innovation? Roussel said it’s important to force it by doing things like changing the morning news conference to stop talking about the print product. Sheets said Newsday has done much of the same and said talking about metrics and digital audience is important to those conversations.

  • What kinds of storytelling formats are you investing in? “We’re looking a lot at vertical video,” Sheets said, noting investigative videos ranked highly among focus groups. Muzell said explainers work well for Grupo RBS, especially in breaking news situations. And Atkins added that being flexible and changing formats based on audience response is key.

Rochell Bishop Sleets, managing editor of Newsday in the United States.
Rochell Bishop Sleets, managing editor of Newsday in the United States.

  • How do we address the challenge between meeting audience needs by personalising vs. making sure consumers see important news? Rousell said editorial hierarchy and news judgment will remain paramount — but may be supplemented by other experiences (such as more easily surfacing topics of interest). “It’s super important that we give people the news to live their daily lives and make important decisions,” Sheets said. “We also should be creating products that meet their personal needs. It has to be a mix.”

  • Why can’t we use AI to tell our journalists whether something is worth doing? Sheets said she believes AI has its place but may not be the best predictor: “To lean on something that’s a recycling bin of information to predict the future may not be the best idea.” Muzell said as AI continues to improve, it may be useful in this area: “I’ll be more open to use AI for predictions when it proves more right than it is now,” he said.

What resonates with you in these takeaways? E-mail me amalie.nash@inma.org.

How should news companies cultivate younger consumers?

Kassy Cho, founder and editor-in-chief of Almost, tackled that topic during a dynamic presentation at World Congress. She talked about the ongoing challenge that publishers face: how to bring in younger readers in an era of news avoidance.

Kassy Cho, founder and editor-in-chief of Almost.
Kassy Cho, founder and editor-in-chief of Almost.

“What if it’s not that young people aren’t into the news,” she asked. “But it’s that young people aren’t into YOUR news?”

Frustrated by traditional media sources, Cho founded Almost — positioned as an independent social-first news outlet delivering global news stories and empowering young voices. In three years, Almost has amassed 223K total followers across its accounts with a predominantly younger audience. 

“If you can’t find young people, you are simply not finding them where they are,” she said. “Young people want the news, but they’re not necessarily going to meet you where you are.”

Cho pointed to research showing younger consumers are interested in news, but the majority get their news from social media. Almost focuses its news content on social media, fitting seamlessly into younger readers’ lives.

She also myth-busted that young people aren’t interested in hard news, saying content on the impact of climate change and a series aimed at empowering women have resonated with Almost’s audience.

Invest in young people, she said, because they are your future audience.

“When I worked in traditional media, there was definitely a desire but also a resistance toward engaging with younger people,” she said. “But there was also a resistance to change. Media has been slow to adapt, but instead of adapting, we should be innovating.”

She offered three things publishers should do:

  • Embrace social-first methods and experimentation.

  • Adopt audience-first approaches and iterative curating.

  • Invest in young people and culture shifts.

Have you had success engaging with younger audiences? E-mail me: amalie.nash@inma.org.

Mark your calendars

Upcoming INMA events that shouldn’t be missed:

  • May 8: “Leveraging a User Needs Model to Improve Journalism,” our next Newsroom Transformation Initiative Webinar, featuring case studies from Berlingske Media and DPG Media NV. Register here.

  • May 15: “Should News Publishers Unlock Their Paywalls for This Year’s Elections?” This question came up at World Congress and will be hosted by INMA’s Readers First Initiative Lead Greg Piechota. Register here.

  • June 5: “Under Fire: Essentials to Secure Your News Products,” presented by Jodie Hopperton, Product & Tech Initiative Lead. Register here.

  • June 26: In this Webinar for the Newsroom Transformation Initiative, we’ll talk about how to reduce the amount of time spent on producing a newspaper to focus more on digital. Hear case studies from Aftenposten and Politiken. Register here.

  • September 23-27: INMA’s next in-person event, Media Innovation Week, takes place in Helsinki, Finland. I’ll be there! And we’ll talk about future-proofing sustainable news brands in the sustainability capital of Europe. Learn more and register.

About this newsletter

Today’s newsletter is written by Amalie Nash, based in Denver, Colorado, United States, and lead for the INMA Newsroom Transformation Initiative. Amalie will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of bringing newsrooms into the business of news.

This newsletter is a public face of the Newsroom Transformation Initiative by INMA, outlined here. E-mail Amalie at amalie.nash@inma.org or connect with her on INMA’s Slack channel with thoughts, suggestions, and questions.

About Amalie Nash

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