Welcome to the latest INMA Newsroom Initiative newsletter with insights and advice from leading newsroom figures and updates from me.
Insights from the Newsroom Initiative at the INMA World Congress of News Media
Here’s a summation of the critical points of two and a half hours of the Newsroom Initiative module in the INMA World Congress of News Media on Tuesday. I will expand on some of the presentations in future updates (and you can read more on INMA.org here), but here are some of the main points:
• Arab News, under Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas, is reinventing itself and the perception of Saudi Arabia. It has a diverse workforce and has broken down even physical barriers between genders in its offices; its reporting on the killing of former deputy editor Jamal Khashoggi added to its credibility even against objections; it will expand into new languages and aim to change minds.
“We complain a lot about being misunderstood,” he said. “I think we’ve done an incredibly fair job in terms of trying to correct (the) narrative. We want to correct misconceptions and report on stories.”
INMA members can watch Faisal here.
• Dagens Nyheter Managing Editor Anna Åberg said the organisation learned critical lessons from the pandemic as it watched its workforce fracture and isolate. It reversed that with stronger editing, promoting more trust between colleagues, attention to mental health, and more collaboration. All that set the Swedish group up to excel on the Ukraine story.
“We emphasised editorship and leadership,” she said.
• Reuters Global Managing Editor of News Publishing Simon Robinson explained how the news service uses its own Web site to create a common sense about whom the teams are writing for — whether financial or media clients. Newsrooms have combined local language and international output; and Reuters commitment to its Trust Principles and impartiality have made it a first port of call for voice assistants, fact-checking services, and Google, as well as its own clients.
“We’re creating a newsroom that better reflects where the news is coming from,” he said.
• CNN Worldwide Digital Senior Vice President Marcus Mabry is a former foreign correspondent who believes human judgment is at the heart of CNN’s curation of its “surfaces” — owned and operated sites, as well as the off-network properties it serves. It creates a constant feedback loop of what works, what doesn’t, and helps digital and TV journalists do more, more efficiently.
“Journalists want nothing more than to have an impact,” he said.
Nuggets from another newsroom leader
One of my most valuable conversations lately was with Tamedia Switzerland Chief Product Officer Christoph Zimmer. The major Swiss publisher is running a major strategy review, looking at its local and national titles and how best to exploit its digital platforms.
It is a familiar set of challenges for a large publishing group. More about that in future newsletters and detail from the interview with Christoph, but here are a couple of nuggets about how Tamedia is working to focus the attention of its journalists on what matters.
“Our ‘North Star’ goal is subscriptions: 200,000 by the first quarter of 2023,” Christoph told me. “On a day-to-day basis, we measure engagement time.”
That focus on engagement and attention echoes the view of Ezra Eeman, the change director at Mediahuis, who told us recently he was using attention as a proxy.
It is clear that attention is only one of the metrics newsrooms need to use, but it is a proxy for more detailed metrics. Which journalists do not want to have their stories read, afterall?
As Globe and Mail Editor-in-Chief David Walmsley said in the first Newsroom Initiative master class: “Journalists naturally seek validation. If you write good quality journalism and it generates subscriptions, then it’s a great validation.”
Bloomberg launches a specific UK site to challenge FT and others
Bloomberg News launched a new service in London focused on Great Britain: Bloomberg UK. It is squarely aimed at the Financial Times (which founder Michael Bloomberg was long known to covet before it was bought by Nikkei of Japan) and presumably Reuters in its backyard.
“Our goal is to become the main destination for business and financial news in Britain,” Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait wrote in a piece on his own site.
Michael Bloomberg was no less ambitious for the new service, writing that Bloomberg UK reflected his confidence in the UK — despite his disdain for the decision to leave the European Union — and a fear that the media in Britain risked following the U.S. into partisanship.
“The UK is an economic and cultural powerhouse and needs top-notch journalism to match. That’s why I’m investing in a major expansion of our UK reporting operations,” was how the standfirst on his opinion column described his hopes for Bloomberg UK.
Agency Dealmaking for Journalists Goes Into Overdrive, in The Hollywood Reporter, is an interesting business-like investigation into the world of the celebrity news journalist and the way they turn their influence into currency through a tight group of agents.
“News talent in the last five years have become stars in their own right,” says United Talent Agency Co-President Jay Sures, noting his agency’s clients: “The likes of Don Lemon, David Muir, Anderson Cooper, Bret Baier, Jake Tapper, Norah O’Donnell. They are stars. They are walk-down-the-street stars. And as a result of that, they are compensated in a commensurate way with what they bring to their respective employers, which is a real trusted source in news — people enjoy watching them for different reasons.”
What do you think? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Grueskin @bgrueskin is a Columbia Journalism School professor whom I first got to know when he was at The Wall Street Journal. He’s a funny commentator on media, especially Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, and usually on the money with his journalistic observations.
Tell me what you want to read and what you like or don't like in this newsletter, please. E-mail: email@example.com. I also plan a Slack group. Interested?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with thoughts, suggestions, and questions.