The newsroom is so much more than news these days

By Peter Bale


New Zealand and the U.K.


Welcome to the latest INMA Newsroom Initiative newsletter with insights and advice from leading newsroom figures and updates from me.

Nuggets from newsroom leaders: metrics, focus, serving audiences

Talking with newsroom leaders over the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d pull out a few modest nuggets on how they’re managing their teams and setting goals. Aligning teams is a critical part of the Newsroom Initiative, and I will expand much more on these sorts of ideas.

In Belgium, Ezra Eeman, who recently started a new role as “change director” at the Mediahuis international publishing group, said he’s initially encouraging the newsroom team to focus on attention time as a proxy for all manner of reader and subscriber engagement metrics.

Ezra Eeman is change director at Mediahuis in Belgium.
Ezra Eeman is change director at Mediahuis in Belgium.

“Our North Star metric is attention time, and then there are underling support metrics: We feel that in an attention economy, attention is a proxy for a lot of things. It’s also a good predictor of business metrics,” he told me. “We look at CSAT [consumer satisfaction] scores with the journalists as part of reporting back to the newsroom managers.”

Whatever the measures used, they have to be translatable back to journalistic metrics that can be adopted and implemented as journalistic actions within the newsroom: “Everything has to be translated to newsroom metrics. Of course we also look at PVs, newsletter opens, or time on page, or any of these underlying metrics.”

I expect to do more on this and various methods Ezra is deploying since joining Mediahuis from the European Broadcasting Union.

In Argentina, Raúl Pedone, the editor general of Diario Los Andes, says he seeks a middle ground between influence and scale in which he has to preserve the quality the newspaper is known for in its home region while gaining readership from further afield. That means exploiting social media as well as serving audiences with a range of formats including video, podcasts, and newsletters.

Raúl Pedone is the editor general of Diario Los Andes in Argentina.
Raúl Pedone is the editor general of Diario Los Andes in Argentina.

“We always strive for an editorial standard that feeds the influence of the brand, the range of topics addressed is diverse and for all possible audiences,” he says. The tricky part right now is combining that in a way that generates revenue, he says. So he is urging his newsroom to really think about the needs of subscribers since Los Andes launched subscriptions 18 months ago.

At Reuters in London, Simon Robinson, the global managing editor for news and a speaker in the May 24 Newsroom Initiative module of the INMA World Congress of News Media, told me how they are tackling an age-old question of exactly which markets Reuters journalists serve.

With its roots in the news agency but a big percentage of its revenue from supplying financial news to its one-time data and trading business — now Refinitiv and owned by the London Stock Exchange Group — it can be a challenge to answer the question of what the audience wants.

That’s where, Robinson reckons, the site can come in.

Simon Robinson, global managing editor/news publishing at Reuters in the UK.
Simon Robinson, global managing editor/news publishing at Reuters in the UK.

“We are a complex newsroom mostly because we serve multiple clients: one big financial client; media clients around the world, whether they are digital, TV news networks or old-fashioned newspapers; and increasingly the readers of our own Web site,” he told me.

“We’re finding that our Web site, in fact, is a good way to orientate our journalists. It captures the breadth of our coverage, including both political and general coverage around the world and our financial and business reporting. When reporters ask, ‘What should I be doing/should I prioritise?’ we can point to the Web site as  the combination of the two. If you think of our coverage as a Venn diagram of two circles: world coverage and financial coverage, with the overlap in the middle — that’s what our Web site caputures.”

We’ll be doing much more on metrics, business models, cultural alignment, and more in the INMA Newsroom Initiative

A reminder of the three core themes this year:

  • Business models for journalism: understanding what’s driving publishing revenues today.

  • Creating high-value journalism: ways to do the best job for audiences and the business.

  • Impact and influence: the big cultural questions in aligning newsrooms with business goals.

Stuff New Zealand becomes a certified B-Corp

Stuff, the largest publisher in New Zealand, announced it’s become a certified B-Corporation, joining a small number of media companies that have achieved that ranking and committed to a range of social, environmental, and transparency goals.

Sinead Boucher is CEO at Stuff in New Zealand.
Sinead Boucher is CEO at Stuff in New Zealand.

Proprietor and Chief Executive Sinead Boucher, who bought the company from Nine Network Australia at the height of the crisis in media over the COVID pandemic, has said she wants Stuff to become the most trusted company in the country — not just for its news.

“Being a B Corp aligns with Stuff’s strategy of making Aotearoa [an alternative indigenous Maori name for New Zealand] a better place. We want all that we do, all that we think about, and all we produce to be having a tangible, positive impact on Aotearoa and the lives of everyone who lives here,” Boucher said in a statement carried on

“We see the certification as a crucial tool to help guide us on this journey, to help us hold ourselves accountable for our actions, and to continue building trust with consumers, communities, and suppliers, and to attracting and retaining employees.”

The Guardian Media Group in the UK is among a tiny group of media firms that have applied for and achieved B-Corp status.

Full disclosure, I worked for Sinead as a strategic adviser on this and other issues.

Recommended reads and listens

  • Dick Tofel, the founding managing editor of ProPublica, is one of the most perspicacious thinkers in media. Now retired, Dick is running a Substack “Second Rough Draft” that addresses trends and questions in media, especially around management and business. In his latest post, Dick wonders if there’s too much gloom emanating from newsrooms: “In our newsrooms — and widely elsewhere — the national bad mood seems to persist, perhaps even deepen. I had hoped that people just needed some well-earned time off, a sensitive approach to returning to offices, a less frantic pace of disasters, and reunions with family. But most have had those now, and yet the sourness lingers. What to do?” Dick recommends a dose of optimism.

  • TikTok can be a mystery to those who think it is all about dancing. CGTN, the Chinese international broadcaster, reckons it may have worked out how to use TikTok effectively for news. Duncan Hooper, head of digital at CGTN Europe in London, explains in this LinkedIn article how CGTN recognised the scale of TikTok during the pandemic and that it was spreading beyond entertainment: “We’re not here to do jokes. Other people are much funnier than we are. We do sometimes present stories in a more light-hearted way, but the content that has had the greatest impact for us has been hard news.” He goes on to offer valuable lessons.

  • Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, has built a solo career as a podcaster since he was fired by former President U.S. Donald Trump. His “Stay Tuned with Preet” legal show is an intelligent way to understand this febrile time in the United States. This episode, with Alabama legal expert Joyce Vance, is a valuable way to understand the legal and political implications of the Supreme Court Roe v Wade case leak.

Recommended follows

David Allen-Green, @davidallengreen, is a London-based lawyer and columnist in the Financial Times. His Twitter feed is a rich resource of media law analysis, law commentary, and explanatory items on how to understand critical issues of law and justice.

Ian Bremmer, @ianbremmer, is the founder of the Eurasia Group international affairs consultancy and hosts the GZero podcast. He offers an informed perspective and a remarkable roster of some of the most prominent experts, officials, and analysts.

Talk back

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About this newsletter

Today’s newsletter is written by Peter Bale, based in New Zealand and the U.K. and lead for the INMA Newsletter Initiative. Peter will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of global newsrooms.

This newsletter is a public face of the Newsroom Initiative by INMA, outlined here. E-mail Peter at or with thoughts, suggestions, and questions.

About Peter Bale

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