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It’s been a bugbear of mine for years at this point that news outlets will acknowledge they’ve been hooked on vanity metrics – and then do nothing about it. It’s worse because I know that I’m a huge hypocrite: I still get a journalistic thrill from pageviews, even though nowhere I write for materially benefits from pageviews alone. It’s genuinely very difficult to wean yourself off Big Numbers, even when you know you should be.
So this article from the Local News Initiative strikes a chord with me, because it examines the appeal of pageviews and time spent metrics – and where they fall down: “What this means is that it’s preferable for subscribers to be in the habit of visiting your news source regularly as opposed to reading long articles occasionally and staying away for significant periods in between. ‘Binging is bad for subscriber health,’ states a summary of the Subscriber Engagement Index data.”
Effectively, this is confirmation of everything we’ve always known. Your most valuable consumers will be a smaller cohort, but they’re exponentially more important to the long-term health of your business. It’s one thing to know that intellectually, but quite another to know how to deal with the switch from Big Numbers to Important Numbers on an emotional level. Journalists and media decision-makers are people too.
There are endless – I mean endless – considerations that go into reshaping a company. Lucy Küng has done an exhaustive – I mean exhaustive – look at how the most vital media businesses are grappling with the challenge of staying relevant. There’s a ton of really good advice in this interview, including how CEOs should take the self-actualisation needs of its younger employees into account.
This is an interesting article, if only because it exposes an interesting definitional argument at the heart of the media industry. What counts as a ‘membership’ versus a ‘subscription’? I’ve always thought of a ‘membership’ in the Guardian sense – you pay to support open access, but get a few perks on top. Meanwhile, per some of the organisations in this article, ‘membership’ seems to simply be synonymous. There are other interesting points in here, but that seems to be at the heart of it all.
To be completely honest we don’t feature enough news about media industries outside Europe and the US. This is a good snapshot of how the Indian media landscape is being hit by a global slowdown – particularly how its digital media sector is struggling to make ends meet. And if the media industry in one of the fastest-growing economies is having a hard time…
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