Sture Bergman, CEO of Västerbottens-Kuriren, a 34,000 circulation daily newspaper in Sweden, has seen his publication’s future. A “small player” in the global media scene, VK lags behind larger markets in North America and Europe.
Even though VK makes a profit now, Bergman said the newspaper is already preparing its model for a few years from now.
“We have to start mending the roof when the sun is shining, in our case,” he said.
Bergman shared his plan for the future — one that draws upon readership data and employee opinions — Monday at the 82nd INMA World Congress.
VK’s subscription data shows that its largest customer age group is 61 to 70 year olds. The newspaper saw its largest decline in the age group that should be the highest — 31 to 40 year olds. Bergman said VK needs to focus on customers, taking into account the trends in news consumption among different age groups.
“We are in an old, old industry,” Bergman said. “We are trying to get things right rather than try something new. We have to go in a new way.”
Bergman said VK has three phases to change:
- The first will come from its employees. VK asked every one of them for opinions on their new business model. They collected data about their readers to gain knowledge and insight into their options.
- The next is efficiency in change. There is no perfect solution, but the newspaper needs to be able to change quickly to find what works, Berman said: “Our aim is not to find heaven, but to have a movement in our culture.”
- The last is a focus on development. VK needs to cut cost of production and pay for advancing toward the future of news. The newspaper plans to do this by increasing development funding 5% every year.
Despite the urgency and necessity of change, Bergman said it is possible as long as VK’s employees bring their passion of news together to save their company. They have to have the whole company on board, which requires a shared passion to change, Bergman said.
“It’s scary. It’s difficult,” he said. “But it’s great fun.”