How does a media organisation measure its cultural change?

By Amalie Nash


Denver, Colorado, United States


Making cultural change can be hard. And it’s not easy to measure either.

During a recent INMA Webinar featuring Louise Story (who has worked for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and as a media consultant), Patty Michalski, Hearst’s senior vice president of content strategy and innovation, questioned how newsrooms should measure and track cultural change, noting the things newsrooms do measure — like audience analytics — are often lagging metrics of whether cultural change is taking root. 

Helping newsrooms become more data oriented is easier with specific tools journalists understand.
Helping newsrooms become more data oriented is easier with specific tools journalists understand.

The first step, Story says, is for newsrooms to drill in on what they mean by cultural change, noting the answers often vary by institution. (I share Story’s seven priorities for culture change in this recent blog post.)

A good example she offered of a measurement to track: All organisations want their newsrooms to become more data-oriented and integrate the right metrics into workflows. So an organisation can design or use a tool for journalists to understand the metrics — and then measure adoption rate of that tool over the course of a year. 

“Cultural change can sound scary, but being that specific can help show what it means,” Story said.

Michalski says Hearst also works to identify things like: Are people trying new things? Are we hearing new ideas? 

“It’s a constant evolution,” she says. “It’s not that we go somewhere, get there, and we’ve reached the promised land. We’ll always be teaching and training and evolving.”

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About Amalie Nash

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