Dr Joy Jenkins
Excerpts of Research Report titled “Publish less, but publish better: pivoting to paid in local news”
The report finds that: In the last two years, all of the case newspapers have shifted from digital strategies emphasising the pursuit of audience reach, monetised through advertising or a blend of paid-content models and auxiliary sources, to a focus on building lasting relationships with readers who will pay for online content in the form of subscriptions, memberships, access to premium articles, donations, or micropayments.
- The news organisations prioritise loyal readers over ‘fly-by’ visitors driven by platforms such as Google and Facebook. They aim to attract these audiences through producing distinctive, ‘value-added’ content that reflects both the classic functions of local journalism – coverage of crime, courts, and traffic – and also allows for continued experimentation in long-form, data-driven, and solutions-oriented reporting.
- The newsrooms have embraced a commercial mindset that supports the adoption of new editorial processes and roles to enhance digital revenues, including strategies for scheduled content, quantifying attention and engagement, breaking online news, producing in-depth features, developing new products such as podcasts and newsletters, collaborating between editorial and commercial departments, and sharing content among multiple publisher holdings.
- This emphasis on relationship-building has spurred changes to these organisations’ platform strategies, particularly in regard to Facebook, which remains a significant traffic-driver. Just as Facebook as a company has shifted its focus from public posts to groups and private messaging, the newspapers have scaled back their reliance on the platform for achieving algorithmic reach and instead use it strategically to promote subscriptions, connect with targeted groups, and reach new audiences.