A big push in the INMA Newsroom Initiative is how best to produce journalism that drives the goals of your publishing business — without perverting the quality or editorial mission.
We’ve also focused on journalists understanding what business they’re in — whether advertising-led or subscription — and knowing how it works and what levers they have to pull.
During the recent INMA Asia-Pacific News Media Summit, newsroom leaders from the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and Malaysiakini from Kuala Lumpur showed some great homegrown examples of relatively simple initiatives — backed by data — in which editorial work clearly drives business objectives.
Malaysiakini newsroom dashboard shows which stories convert
Eshwaren Manoharen, head of product management and development at Malaysiakini, showed how the independent hard-news publisher analysed its traffic and reader habits in ways that reinforced the value they hoped was there in the editorial mission: The critical proxy was how that quality journalism converted into a propensity to subscribe or stay a subscriber.
In a discovery that will echo with many other newsrooms, Eshwaren presented a simple-but-critical finding: “Stories with the most number of pageviews are not the highest converting stories. Stories that are well-researched, investigative long-form, explainers tend to perform better to convert readers into subscribers.”
That understanding rapidly turned into action, for example, following up stories that generate interest and comments from subscribers with analytical explainers — knowing there is demand.
Malaysiakini has created a highly detailed dashboard available to all its newsroom staff in which they can see stories that convert into subscriptions or retain subscribers — and even how much revenue might be attributed to a given story or area of coverage. It’s almost gamified, and Eshwaren said the transparency has created a good-humoured spirit of competition.
Go to the Asia-Pacific Summit session page to watch the video and download Eshwaren’s presentation.
South China Morning Post puts editorial at the center of its strategy
For the SCMP, Digital Editor Shea Driscoll talked about a simple and effective way in which understanding reader behaviour and its alignment to business goals on engagement led to product improvements that enhanced the discovery of content and kept readers longer.
Shea showed a handy “wheel” chart with editorial firmly at the centre surrounded by four critical components that support a product based around editorial output: audience growth, data, strategy and special projects, and product and technology.
“Don’t lose sight of why you do this,” Shea asked. The bottom line is that it’s all about trusting editorial judgment and then testing it against real-world data from user behaviour.
Go to the Asia-Pacific Summit session page to watch the video and download Shea’s presentation. A short presentation from me is there as well.
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