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News publishers respond to COVID-19

“INMA Knows” is a content surfacing project designed to personally curate all association resources on a single subject of high interest to INMA members.

Introduction

As the coronavirus spreads across the world, news media companies are grappling with so much more than coverage: work-from-home plans, corona-related product development, advertising declines, the impending fallout on the economy and advertising revenues. Starting with a survey of members and outreach to our members in Hong Kong and Singapore — who were on the front line of this and shared lessons learned from the SARS outbreak almost two decades ago — INMA continues to dig into what news media companies need to know most. Stay tuned for the latest and reach out if you have something to share.

Dawn McMullan

— Dawn McMullan, INMA

The most relevant INMA material on “News publishers respond to COVID-19”

Research, best practices for the COVID-19 content and paywall dilemmas publishers face

As the pandemic reminds people why journalism is important and publishers see incredible increases in digital subscriptions, news media companies must decide the best approach to getting key content to the public and keeping these readers for the long term. INMA Researcher-in-Residence Grzegorz Piechota offers his research on the matter, as well as a case study from La Repubblica in Rome and pop-up newsletter best practices from the founder of Inbox Collective.

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Research: What the COVID-19 bump looks like

Research shows new visitors-turned-subscribers are the least likely to stay for the long term. Here are some statistics and advice for news media companies experiencing a bump in readership and subscriptions from the pandemic.

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Research: Publisher strategies to keep readers post-pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic makes its way across Europe and into the United States, here is a statistical look at what publishers are doing with paywalls, discounted trials, and how much COVID-19 content audiences are reading.

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How Mediahuis adopted a “crooked,” agile work environment

Media houses have traditionally worked in a linear fashion, but Mediahuis’ commitment to adopt an agile mindset is changing the company culture in a more team-focused way. This is important even when — perhaps especially when — teams are hit with a disruptive pandemic.

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A reminder: There are daily victories in this pandemic

Although the timeline varies from region to region, every news media company on the planet is experiencing the effects of the pandemic. In days and weeks of loss after loss, here is a list of wins to kick off a new month in our new reality.

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“Glimmers of hope in a very dark place” — what’s working in today’s crisis

With revenue bases devasted, news publishers prepare to right-size their businesses for the new environment. At the same time, subscription, advertising, and content opportunities are beginning to reveal themselves. It may be the beginning of a reinvention we have long talked about.

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Like bread at the bakery, quality journalism has a price in this pandemic moment

Online journalism has gotten rid of the reputation of being quick and cheap. Especially these days, readers appreciate the wide range of data, visualisation, moving images, audio, and text. Whoever calls “paywall down” has not understood the signs of the times. This is a plea from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) newsroom: Get transformation done. A reminder: A digital subscription is about the price of a monthly pizza prosciutto and a beer habit.

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COVID-19 provides opportunity to reinvent the news industry with constructive journalism

Constructive journalism asks different questions than breaking news or investigative journalism, and it has the potential to unite readers through hope, inspiration, and new ideas.

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Report from Rome: In health crisis, Italians rediscover the value of quality journalism

Digital subscriptions to Italy’s La Repubblica are up more than 50% to 110,000 during the COVID-19 crisis — in a country with a print single-copy history. The digital managing editor talks with INMA about the consumer shift toward looking for hope and the link between tragedy and quality journalism.

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Wall Street Journal provides facts, opens paywall for COVID-19 coverage

The Wall Street Journal has placed COVID-19 coverage in front of its paywall to respond to readers’ needs and questions.

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News organisations are on the frontline of online social interactions during pandemic

COVID-19 highlights an opportunity for news media organisations to create online spaces for people to connect with each other.

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Navigating your sales team through crisis and ramping up for turnaround

An INMA members-only Webinar presented by Alexander Group outlines key factors in how media advertising sales should respond to the current crisis and how to survive a downturn.

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Indian media houses respond to national lockdown, myths about print contamination, community opportunities

The world's largest coronavirus lockdown began Tuesday evening in India, kicking off a 21-day struggle for everyone, including the nation’s news media companies. Publishers that rely on print distribution are facing myths of COVID-19 spread through newspapers as they fight fake news and work to get reliable journalism to their readers.

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Despite COVID-19, Ekstra Bladet was determined that the show must go on — online

After all live music events were canceled in Denmark due to COVID-19, Ekstra Bladet livestreamed a concert by popular alternative rock band Dizzy Mizz Lizzy.

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The brave face of JoongAng Ilbo’s COVID-19 response

The Korean media company’s production team quarantines itself inside its Daegu plant, extraordinary measures are taken to protect Seoul employees, and the company stares down what may be a long battle with economic recovery. It’s been an emotional ride.

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Digital subscription benchmarks, best practices during COVID-19 pandemic

Mather Economics has developed benchmarks from publisher data that identify best practices for growing digital subscriptions while staying true to the journalistic mission of informing the public.

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NWZ Mediengruppe rolls out “Strong Together” initiative in response to COVID-19 pandemic

NWZ Mediengruppe is relying heavily on digital options to stay current on coronavirus coverage and created its “Strong Together” campaign to meet subscribers’ needs. Two big changes: The company has stopped production of its weekly newspapers for one month and is using digitised advertising supplements.

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7 ways publishers can help their advertisers right now

The relationship between local advertisers and local news publishers is important — and in danger. During this pandemic, news media companies can jump in immediately and help by discussing brand safety, reviewing category blocks, and focusing on verticals relevant to coronavirus.

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Independent restaurants need your B2C intervention — now

With stay-at-home orders and quarantines putting an end to in-restaurant dining, restaurants and bars face mass elimination in the coming weeks — in some regions of the world, right now — due to COVID-19. While they are reinventing themselves for takeout and delivery, there is no path to success in a “many-to-many” distribution network. Local restaurants need local publishers to create a hub.

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Globe and Mail uses AI to direct readers to coronavirus coverage

The Globe and Mail used its AI system, Sophi, to identify what kind of coverage readers were looking for as COVID-19 outbreaks began in Canada.

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Aftonbladet uses automated “Corona Watch” to stay ahead of the story

Using an automated system called Corona Watch, Aftonbladet is able to better monitor and report on new COVID-19 cases and developments.

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Zero incidents of COVID-19 transmission from print surfaces

To debunk a myth that continues to circulate, INMA looked at the scientific research behind surface-based transmission of the coronavirus — notably newsprint and paper products. The evidence is overwhelming: no transmissions, porous surfaces are safe, and newsprint is safest because of the sterility of ink and paper processes. Beyond this, publishers are taking delivery precautions.

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5 ways to add trust to content while covering COVID-19

While covering COVID-19, use these research-proven trust techniques — from transparent reporting to solutions journalism.

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COVID-19 coverage sparks massive increases in subscription starts, engagement

Research from Chartbeat and Piano show increases in news brand pageviews, engaged time, and new subscription starts in the past two weeks, according to INMA Readers First newsletter. Programmatic ad requests skyrocket as eCPMs decline.

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Quantifying the COVID-19 impact on subscriptions, content, attention, programmatic

INMA Reader-in-Residence Grzegorz Piechota shares breaking news numbers in increased readership engagement worldwide, subscription starts up 100%+ in Europe, and programmatic ad requests spike while but eCMPs decrease.

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Expect advertising bust through 2nd quarter then mild rebound, publishers tell INMA

An informal INMA global survey shows the forecasted arc of bust and boom in advertising sales through 2021, categories impacted, the struggle to re-connect with advertisers, challenges with sales reps, and the shift to diversify revenue streams.

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The short- and long-term impact of COVID-19 to news publishers

FTI Consulting weighs in on the advertising declines the past two weeks, the rise in digital traffic and digital subscriptions, the impact on revenue and EBITDA, and the questions publishers face next.

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Case studies, survey preview what COVID-19 is doing to advertising revenue

A live INMA Webinar looked at how the coronavirus is impacting news publishers around the world — from operations to subscription opportunities and advertising losses — and what the potential outlook could be.

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5 breaking news tactics for COVID-19 coverage

As COVID-19 continues triggering panic around the world, there are several ways to engage your audience while helping ease some of their anxiety. Here is a look at what media companies like National Post, CBS, ABC, and ProPublica are doing in the early days of the virus in North America.

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In crisis and normalcy, why measuring and maximising subscriber lifetime value is key

A Webinar for INMA members looked at how news publishers can calculate and maximise the lifetime value of their digital subscribers — an especially relevant topic as the industry works through the COVID-19 crisis.

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How COVID-19 upended staff, page views, and advertising at Ekstra Bladet

The 300 employees of Ekstra Bladet started working from home on Friday, after just two days of planning. Yesterday, the team produced its print and digital editions with a completely remote staff — and page views are breaking records. Here is a look into what the Danish tabloid has transitioned to in less than a week and what that might mean for its future work structure, readership, and advertising.

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5 truisms for news publishers in a contracting economy

Drawing on experiences like 9/11 and the Great Recession, media companies can expect leaps forward during and after the COVID-19 crisis from lurking ideas, an advertising downturn, a prediction on viability, a shift to basics, and opportunities in decline.

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COVID-19 spurs Vorarlberger Nachrichten to bring its community closer with #VorarlbergSticksTogether

After watching how coronavirus is playing out in neighbouring Italy, regional Austrian newspaper Vorarlberger Nachrichten went beyond regular reporting with a constructive journalism approach involving a microsite where neighbours can help neighbours and a call to shop locally.

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Dallas Morning News responds to COVID-19 with its first all-remote newspaper

Considering coronavirus is closing in on its country, state, and city, The Dallas Morning News made plans for a remote publication trial. When nine of its journalists were exposed to COVID-19 at a conference, things got more personal. On Saturday, its first remotely published newspaper was a success.

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Brace yourself: Working full-time from home is different

INMA’s 11 years of a virtual office may offer lessons to media companies and their employees plunging full-time into “work-from-home” environments for the first time due to ramifications from COVID-19.

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Media execs to INMA: We weren’t ready enough for COVID-19, but we’re rallying

Responding to coronavirus implications, an INMA survey of 56 news media companies worldwide shows a rapid shift to work-from-home, evolution in how business gets done, and workplace changes.

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On the COVID-19 front line, how South China Morning Post protected its staff

Hong Kong was ground zero when the SARS outbreak fanned out across the world in 2003. SCMP shares lessons learned and protocols created from the SARS virus and how those quickly fell into place when China was hit with coronavirus in January.

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5 ways Singapore Press Holdings is using SARS newsroom lessons for COVID-19

In 2003, SPH developed a protocol to ensure business continuity during the SARS outbreak. That protocol forms the foundation for how it is now coping with the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, by dividing the newsroom into two teams, Team A and Team B, the media company’s titles continue coverage while limiting exposure. This is they are doing it.

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Verbatim: How media companies are responding to COVID-19

In a March 2020 survey, INMA members talk about how they are responding to the rapidly evolving coronavirus: operational plans, scenarios, employees, and revenue.

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COVID-19 and news publishers: What’s happening right now

From donated tablets for coronavirus patients and print newspapers marketed as toilet paper to pop-up newsletters and internal travel bans, here is a brief look at how news media companies around the world are dealing with coronavirus.

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