Four ways to make your content better

By Rachel Podnar
Ball State University

To open What’s New, What’s Next, the executive director of the American Press Institute Tom Rosentiel shared four ways to make content better to a packed room of media editors.

Here are his four key points.

Millennials are your pathfinders

“They are the ones that got their parents on Facebook and watching Netflix,” he said. “Millennials are the core audience, thinking of them as somebody you need to get to down the road is ridiculous.”

Millennials look to social media for lifestyle, food, music and TV coverage; while they use search engines for how-to’s, products, careers and hobbies; and they go to news creators for hard news.

“They are what your audience is going to be doing in a year,” he said.

You can transform your data and analytics and Create a metric that reflects your values

Analytics has newsrooms chasing outliers, Rosentiel said. He compared it to newsrooms looking at one-hit-wonders instead of quality journalism.

“We inherited metrics that don’t help us,” he said. “They tell us if a story did well but they don’t tell us why.”

API has a Metrics for News program, it’s a database with 250,000 stories, metatagged for journalism qualities. It lets media companies understand stories at the reporter level, what works inside each beat.

An example breakdown of the one key metric.
An example breakdown of the one key metric using views, reading time, social shares, social entries and commenting.

He suggested creating a Total Engagement Index, instead of looking at pageviews, likes, time on page, etc. individually. This one metric is a combination of your key metrics, like views, reading time, social shares, social entries and commenting.

Improve coverage on magnet franchises  

Newspapers of the past used to be like a general stores – with everything, but nothing well.

“Come here because we have it all,” Rosentiel said. “We cover everything, not very well, but we are really convenient.”

But the web rewards specialization.

Rosentiel said news organizations who focused on franchise coverage, which is revamped coverage in certain area based on the community’s interests, saw success with that approach not just in the franchise content areas, but in all content.

“Better does not mean more, it means different,” he said. “Don’t shrink at everything, get better at a few things.”

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