Newsrooms need to get into the business of news

By Amalie Nash


Denver, Colorado, United States


Welcome to 2024!

Newsroom transformation is a concept I’ve spent countless hours thinking about throughout my career as a reporter, editor, corporate news executive, and media consultant in the United States. 

Now, as INMA’s new lead for the Newsroom Transformation Initiative, it’s central to my work and to our mission of ensuring the future viability of news across the world.

This initiative isn’t new, but its focus has tightened this year. Because of that, we’re sending my first newsletter to the entire INMA membership. Subscribers to the Newsroom Initiative newsletter will automatically receive the Newsroom Transformation newsletter. If you didn’t get those newsletter before, subscribe to receive future editions here.

So who am I, and what will the initiative be focused on this year? 

I was previously with Gannett | USA Today Network, where I oversaw more than 250 local newsrooms across the United States. My work focused on using data to influence content strategy, understanding how to make content more relevant to audiences, and breaking down the silos that can sometimes exist between departments. 

In addition to my INMA work, I’m also the head of transformation for the National Trust for Local News, a non-profit that aims to acquire, transform, and sustain local news in communities. 

This initiative started more than two years ago under the direction of Peter Bale, focusing on such important areas as trust in media, creating high-value journalism, and fostering effective relationships between news and product. His work lays a strong foundation for the third year of the initiative, in which we plan to drill in even more on how to bring newsrooms into the business of news — with a special emphasis on “transformation.” 

Read on for my hypothesis — including where you fit in — and learn a bit more about upcoming programming. E-mail me at

Here’s to a transformational year, 


Transformation is much more than just print-to-digital

“Newsroom transformation” is a concept that became popular as legacy newspapers were immersed in the complicated and often messy process of thinking digital-first. 

Many remain in the midst of that process, tethered to legacy cultures and workflows. Transformation has been used to describe such changes as publishing digitally before print, introducing metrics like pageviews and conversions to our newsrooms, and eliminating print-focused meetings. 

Those are important changes, to be sure. But my hypothesis:

Newsroom transformation is less about processes and platforms, and more about ensuring the journalism we produce is relevant to readers. 

We need to be more audience-centric. More focused on what the data tells us. 

We need to deliver the news in the formats and at the times that readers want it. We need to be more engaging. We need to inspire, be constructive, offer solutions.

Starting its third year, the INMA Newsroom Transformation Initiative has narrowed its focus.
Starting its third year, the INMA Newsroom Transformation Initiative has narrowed its focus.

Transformation isn’t simply translating traditional news onto digital platforms faster — it’s about rethinking the role of news and how the success of our journalism leads to the success of our business. 

Some areas of focus for the initiative this year will include: 

  • Redesigning a newsroom for the future. 
  • Understanding the metrics for success. 
  • Combatting cultural inertia. 
  • Getting serious about our “stop doing” lists.

What else should I add to the list? What do you think “newsroom transformation” means? How have you successfully transformed your newsroom? E-mail me your thoughts at

The power of data — and what it can and can’t do 

The first two years of this INMA initiative spoke to the importance of data literacy across newsrooms and of using data to smartly influence decisions. We’ll talk more about that this year, including what metrics matter. 

For instance, Northwestern University’s Medill Spiegel Research Center in the United States has been tracking 35 data points from more than 100 publishers in its Subscriber Engagement Index. Larry DeGaris, executive director of the Spiegel Research Center, tells me that far and away, the most important metric to predict subscriber churn is regularity — meaning the number of days in a month that a subscriber visits. 

Among the largest publishers it tracks, the average subscriber visited 4.45 days per month from June to November 2023. How might we think about regularity in our newsrooms and how can our content mix encourage readers to come back on more days of the month? 

We’ll also talk about some of the important predictors of success that can’t be measured by traditional metrics — and how some companies are building tools to get at those answers.

For instance, Antwerp, Belgium-based Mediahuis introduced the concept of Article DNA to its newsrooms to understand the characteristics that connect stories with audiences. All journalists are now responsible for including the elements of story nature, genre and user need at the front-end of the story planning process. 

Yves Van Dooren, a data science business partner for newsrooms for Mediahuis, tells me that the findings have led to conversations in the newsroom such as: “We need to publish an inspirational story” and not “We need a story for page A5.” 

Van Dooren also warns that data can be overused, meaning a newsroom may focus only on growing pageviews by publishing stories on specific topics, which is not a long-term strategy for meeting audience needs. 

It’s critical that we use data directionally, understand what it tells us and what it can’t tell us about what our readers want from us.

Where is the news industry going in 2024?

AI, of course: I also look forward to sharing newsroom and news consumption trends and research as part of this work (join our Slack channel if you aren’t already there). If you’re interested in AI in the news business, my new colleague Sonali Verma will be spending 2024 on INMA’s new Generative AI Initiative. Register for her new newsletter. 

Fighting news avoidance: One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is how newsroom transformation — better aligning ourselves with our readers and potential readers — may help combat news fatigue and avoidance. The Reuters Institute and Oxford University just released its Digital News Report 2023, which has a slew of interesting findings based on a YouGov survey of over 93,000 online news consumers in 46 markets covering half of the world’s population. 

An area of the research that speaks to our Newsroom Transformation Initiative is how publishers plan to evolve their content strategy to fight news avoidance. They said they’ll lean in on explainers, solutions journalism, inspiring stories, better formats, and other content changes. We’ll talk about these ideas and more in the weeks and months ahead. 

I’d love to know: How do you plan to address news avoidance in your 2024 content strategy? What successes are you seeing with any of the tactics Reuters asked about? E-mail me:

Mark your calendars

Two upcoming INMA events — one virtual, one in-person — that shouldn’t be missed:

  • January 24: On my first Newsroom Transformation Initiative Webinar, I’ll talk about the initiative’s focus and will be joined by two leading Scandinavian editorial leaders who will share practicalities of newsroom transformation. And we’ll hear from Mediahuis’ Yves Van Dooren on Article DNA. The Webinar is free to INMA members, who can register here.

  • February 26-March 1: Join me at INMA’s Digital Subscriptions Summit in New York. This original programme, curated by our Readers First Initiative Lead Greg Piechota, delves into strategies for protecting and elevating the value of premium journalism and its missions. I’d love to meet you if you’ll be there, too. Register now.

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 or connect with her on INMA’s Slack channel with thoughts, suggestions, and questions.

About Amalie Nash

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