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Newsrooms are so much more than news these days

By Peter Bale

INMA

New Zealand and the U.K.

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Talking with newsroom leaders over the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d pull out a few modest nuggets on how they’re managing their teams and setting goals. Aligning teams is a critical part of the Newsroom Initiative, and I will expand much more on these sorts of ideas.

In Belgium, Ezra Eeman, who recently started a new role as “change director” at the Mediahuis international publishing group, said he’s initially encouraging the newsroom team to focus on attention time as a proxy for all manner of reader and subscriber engagement metrics.

Ezra Eeman is change director at Mediahuis in Belgium.
Ezra Eeman is change director at Mediahuis in Belgium.

“Our North Star metric is attention time, and then there are underling support metrics: We feel that in an attention economy, attention is a proxy for a lot of things. It’s also a good predictor of business metrics,” he told me. “We look at CSAT [consumer satisfaction] scores with the journalists as part of reporting back to the newsroom managers.”

Whatever the measures used, they have to be translatable back to journalistic metrics that can be adopted and implemented as journalistic actions within the newsroom: “Everything has to be translated to newsroom metrics. Of course we also look at PVs, newsletter opens, or time on page, or any of these underlying metrics.”

I expect to do more on this and various methods Ezra is deploying since joining Mediahuis from the European Broadcasting Union.

In Argentina, Raúl Pedone, the editor general of Diario Los Andes, says he seeks a middle ground between influence and scale in which he has to preserve the quality the newspaper is known for in its home region while gaining readership from further afield. That means exploiting social media as well as serving audiences with a range of formats including video, podcasts, and newsletters.

Raúl Pedone is the editor general of Diario Los Andes in Argentina.
Raúl Pedone is the editor general of Diario Los Andes in Argentina.

“We always strive for an editorial standard that feeds the influence of the brand, the range of topics addressed is diverse and for all possible audiences,” he says. The tricky part right now is combining that in a way that generates revenue, he says. So he is urging his newsroom to really think about the needs of subscribers since Los Andes launched subscriptions 18 months ago.

At Reuters in London, Simon Robinson, the global managing editor for news and a speaker in the May 24 Newsroom Initiative module of the INMA World Congress of News Media, told me how they are tackling an age-old question of exactly which markets Reuters journalists serve.

With its roots in the news agency but a big percentage of its revenue from supplying financial news to its one-time data and trading business — now Refinitiv and owned by the London Stock Exchange Group — it can be a challenge to answer the question of what the audience wants.

That’s where, Robinson reckons, the Reuters.com site can come in.

Simon Robinson, global managing editor/news publishing at Reuters in the UK.
Simon Robinson, global managing editor/news publishing at Reuters in the UK.

“We are a complex newsroom mostly because we serve multiple clients: one big financial client; media clients around the world, whether they are digital, TV news networks or old-fashioned newspapers; and increasingly the readers of our own Web site,” he told me.

“We’re finding that our Web site, in fact, is a good way to orientate our journalists. It captures the breadth of our coverage, including both political and general coverage around the world and our financial and business reporting. When reporters ask, ‘What should I be doing/should I prioritise?’ we can point to the Web site as  the combination of the two. If you think of our coverage as a Venn diagram of two circles: world coverage and financial coverage, with the overlap in the middle — that’s what our Web site caputures.”

We’ll be doing much more on metrics, business models, cultural alignment, and more in the INMA Newsroom Initiative

A reminder of the three core themes this year:

  • Business models for journalism: understanding what’s driving publishing revenues today.

  • Creating high-value journalism: ways to do the best job for audiences and the business.

  • Impact and influence: the big cultural questions in aligning newsrooms with business goals.

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About Peter Bale

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