In newsrooms, we often talk about beats as “top-of-the-funnel” or “bottom-of-the-funnel” — not both.
In other words, the coverage typically is seen as leading to high pageviews or high subscription conversions.
Such is the case for restaurant coverage in The Dallas Morning News, which brings in a large audience of casual readers but doesn’t lead to high conversion numbers, says CEO Grant Moise. The publication’s highest converting beats are real estate and development, baseball’s Texas Rangers, and retail news.
However, by adding another data point — subscriber pageviews — The Morning News landed on a meaningful insight. Although coverage of restaurants doesn’t bring in a high volume of new subscribers, it is the No. 1 read topic by current subscribers.
“We used to just track the path to conversions, but by looking at subscriber pageviews, we discovered that once someone subscribes, restaurant coverage is the No. 1 tool to bring them back,” Moise tells me.
Moise and Executive Editor Katrice Hardy review analytics together quarterly, looking at a series of overlaid metrics that can result in findings like this one.
So, what did they do with this knowledge?
Hardy says she added two more restaurant reporters, for a total of three. One writes food stories focused on Hispanic readers and region-wide interest in Hispanic culture, while the other is currently focused on profiles, overall trends, and enterprising pieces.
“We added more writers because bringing in more pageviews is key for us in our growing market of newcomers and increasing our market penetration,” Hardy says.
Hardy also shares metrics and insights with her staff, including in a weekly newsletter that highlights successful journalism and includes digital tips, takeaways, and insights, and in quarterly staff meeting metrics reviews.
“This year, we’re rolling out individual dashboards for each reporter,” Hardy says, noting the process will begin next month.
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