Aligning newsroom goals to readers is a relatively easy formula

By Peter Bale


New Zealand and the U.K.


Goals and the importance of sharing them between different units in a publishing company have been a recurring theme of my conversations with newsroom leaders worldwide. 

We all know the SMART goals idea — that objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. That was a mantra when I worked at Microsoft, along with the famous Bill Gates line that: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” 

How Tribune Publishing applied SMART goals to the newsroom.
How Tribune Publishing applied SMART goals to the newsroom.

Those principles apply equally in a well-run newsroom that is working to align with the overall business objectives of the company in ways that work for journalists, the bottom line, and, perhaps most importantly, for readers. 

I thought about this in a conversation with INMA North America board member and former Tribune Publishing Co. audience and editorial operations leader Idalmy Carrera-Colucci. She’s moved to the Blue Engine Collaborative consultancy, where she’s helping implement some of the projects funded by Meta to promote growth and sustainability for news organisations.

She’s spent most of her career working in newsrooms on goals and performance.

“Part of it starts with making sure that we are all aligned around the same goal of serving our community. If that is what makes you come to work to do every day, the journalism we do every day needs to be in service to those readers,” she told me. “If you have that as the guiding star for everything we do, it really helps.”

Among the most useful tools or data points she’s found to convince journalists to engage with what might otherwise be “business metrics” is a view of stories that subscribers are spending the most time on. Then there’s a view of stories that were the last thing someone becoming a subscriber clicked on and hopefully read before choosing to subscribe. 

“The first gives you alignment between the work that they want to do and the content that subscribers value. The last-clicked story and path to conversion — what did they read just before they got their credit card out? — is a really powerful signal of alignment,” she said.

In her time at Tribune, they focused on four metrics:

  • Local users (week over week, YoY and to goal).

  • Return users (week over week, YoY and to goal).

  • Paywall views (week over week, YoY and to goal).

  • Subscriber sessions (week over week, YoY and to goal).

Tell me your experience of useful metrics or views that help you align newsroom goals: This will be a recurring theme in the INMA Newsroom Initiative.

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About Peter Bale

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