How to develop innovative news products that meet your communities’ needs

Last week, I wrote that one of the two guiding principles was that journalism needed new products for new realities and the new audience behaviours. For much of the past decade, a dominant strand of audience and product development reflected the fact that audiences had flocked to social media platforms. In 2023, there was a realisation that renting an audience brought profound risks. The threat had been there all of the time. I had worked for newspaper groups that saw a 40% drop in traffic overnight when Facebook rolled out a new algorithm. And Facebook made it clear that it was de-emphasising news over the last few years. Last year, long-simmering issues came to a head.

Suddenly, there was an emphasis on renewing direct relationships with audiences. At a national or international level, the product mix was there: Newsletters, podcasts and apps. As I say in the Media Bulletin that I write for Pugpig, the Platform Era has given way to the Push Era. Instead of focusing on attracting a large, loosely connected rented audience using social networks, publishers are now focused on building relationships with audiences using content that they had opted receive via push, in their inboxes, their podcast apps and all on their lock screens. Here’s an interview with FT Strategies head of insights about these trends.

Let’s talk about local news. My journalism career started in a local newsroom, the Hays Daily News in Kansas, and a decade ago, I returned to local journalism, managing small newspapers for Gannett in Wisconsin. I love community journalism because I love being a part of and serving communities. But we all know that it is in crisis.

One of my favourite innovation frameworks is Clay Christensen’s “jobs to be done”. As Clay said: “If The New York Times doesn’t understand why I might choose to ‘hire’ its product in certain circumstances and why I might choose something else in others, its data about me or people like me is unlikely to help it create any new innovations for me.”

As a journalist, my professional values tell me that people ‘hire’ what I do because they want to be informed. Dmitry Shiskin’s user needs model accepted the reality that audiences were ‘hiring’ the BBC’s journalism for a range of jobs they wanted to do: update me (inform), keep me on trend, inspire me, amuse me, educate me and give me perspective. The analysis found that the BBC World Service was producing too much “update me” content and underproducing other forms of content. It helps deliver what product leaders call product-market fit. It does the job that audiences need doing.

Let me give you an example. People move around a lot more than they used to. Having moved across the Atlantic three times now, I’m this person. The jobs that newcomers need to be done are different from the jobs of someone who has lived in your community for years or their entire lives. One of the products that has been developed by local newsrooms to cater to these newcomers is a welcome email series. It helps them understand It’s free and starts a relationship with those new community members, and it starts the relationship so that they might hire you for other jobs that they need to do.

Good journalists know their communities deeply. To build products that do the jobs that communities need to be done, journalists need to deploy that knowledge differently. What are your community’s needs that journalists’ capabilities can uniquely satisfy? Ask them, and then reflect on what you can do. (And check out human-centred design if you need a process.)

This will go beyond articles and with good reason. Meta is not going to hold an event about key issues in your community. They aren’t going to create a podcast about local school or amateur sports. Local media innovators will have to balance effort, impact and financial return with all of these products. And one key thing that I learned is that while operating at a small, local level allows you to be nimble, you will always have to be thinking about sustainability - not only in financial terms but also in human terms. One of the lessons from my master’s degree is Michael Porter’s line that managers are the guardians of trade-offs. Too many managers do not wrestle with trade-offs. That lack of focus is never successful, and it comes at a high cost to the people who work for them.

And now into the round-up. With social media declining as a source of traffic for news sites, journalists at a non-profit newsroom got creative in coming up with new ways to reach audiences. Students at New York University’s Studio 20 masters program decided to go low-tech to reach older adults. They leveraged a marketing service from the US Postal Service that allowed them target specific areas affected by the stories that they were covering. And they could target areas “30 times smaller than that covered by the Facebook ad”. They also ran an A/B test by running a Facebook ad. They found that the audiences who came from the postcard promotions were more engaged. Fascinating!

Did Sports Illustrated need to fail? “…interviews with shareholders and current and former employees suggest that Arena missed the licensing payment by choice, not because it didn’t have the money to make it”. Read on.

Apple wants to use news to train its LLM, and it’s offering better deals and terms than other AI groups. But as INMA says, news publishers are wary.

The Messenger was killed

News came out last week that The Messenger was shutting down. It was a surprise to no one who was watching it closely. Digital media veterans including Brian Morrissey and Nieman Lab’s Josh Benton roasted The Messenger’s owner. The model was based on wistfulness for not only a pre-internet media landscape but a pre-cable TV world and a trying to run a digital strategy that might have made sense in 2014 but not at all in 2024. He managed to blow through $50m in nine months. It was a disaster from the start with editorial leadership defecting almost immediately after launch when it became clear that the site was more content farm than a hearkening back to some vision of the glory days of journalism.

Brian Morrissey said in his Rebooting newsletter:

After The Messenger, burn that playbook and disperse the ashes in a burial at sea.

Platform updates: Poynter calculates how much Meta and Google owe news publishers and validate your email your domain now!

Two researchers have calculated just how much Google and Meta have profited from news publishers, and they offer up a robust defence of their methods and explain what it means.

If you are a publisher and send more than 5000 email messages a day, you need to validate your domains or your emails will go straight to spam for Gmail and Yahoo users. And this isn’t just these platforms being bullies. Email fraud has spiked.

My wife publishes newsletters on Substack so we have had plenty of conversations about whether or not to abandon that platform that has been described as having a “Nazi Bar problem”. In a well-reasoned piece, The Fix’s David Tvrdon explains that for people feeling ethically uncomfortable about Substack there are other choices out there that make it easier to leave.

How the third era of community strategies could restore trust and revenue for media organisations

Over the last two weeks, I have written about the crisis in media, particularly local journalism, and ways to address it. For much of my career, I have worked with two assumptions:

  1. We needed to create new products for the new ways that people consumed and interacted with media.

  2. We needed to develop a new relationship with “the people formerly known as the audience”, as Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis and Dan Gillmor talked about this shift in the early part of this century.

    The first decade of this century was heady days for digital media innovation, and the media is launching a new wave of community strategies as publishers and broadcasters seek to reclaim their relationships with audiences and drive higher revenue as those relationships develop and deepen. Reflecting on community strategies and the media for Pugpig’s Media Bulletin, I believe that we’ve seen three eras of community strategies in media.

The first era: Forums, blogs and podcasts

The first era began in the late 1990s and early 2000s with forums, blogs and the first generation of podcasts. Quite a few media organisations, like the BBC and the Guardian (I worked at both during this time - the BBC from 1998 to 2006, and the Guardian from 2006 to 2010), launched blogs and podcasts. I wrote a guide to blogs and blogging for the BBC that supported those efforts. At the BBC, we often used Jeff Jarvis’ phrase that news had become a conversation, and as public service media, it was our civic and missional responsibility to take part in those conversations, whether we initiated them or not.

I was asked to write the guide to blogging because I had written a blog for the BBC during the 2004 US presidential election, but I had been involved in very early experiments in audience engagement dating back to the 1990s, with Talking Point at the World Service, which allowed audiences from around the world to pose questions to newsmakers. During the 2000 election, we took this a step further. We took questions from the BBC’s global audience and hosted webcasts using a portable satellite data uplink allowing voters and experts to answer those questions.

When I was writing the guide to blogging, it was the beginning of the rise of media critics who referred to the BBC and other traditional outlets as the “lame-stream media”. Defensiveness led many media outlets not to engage with the critics, but I did, often directly. When I was covering Tony Blair’s visit to George W. Bush’s ranch. I referred to a local news story jokingly discussing cow tipping. An angry reader wrote to us assuming that I was a member of some coastal elite who wasn’t aware of farming. My mother grew up on a farm, which is still in the family, and I grew up helping friends on their dairy farms. I responded directly to the reader in good humour about my farming experience. It broke the ice, and I had a wonderful exchange, converting a critic into a supporter. Trust is based on relationships, not just professional standards.

However, during this first era of community strategies, many other publishers simply added comments to the bottom of their articles. Journalists wrote and audiences were consigned to the comment sections, which often became toxic and combative. Many media outlets didn’t adjust their editorial strategies to this new interactive era. It reinforced the us vs. them strategy. It didn’t deliver increased engagement or increased revenue because moderation costs often outweighed any benefit.

The second era: The rise of social platforms

The second era shifted community efforts from publishers’ and broadcasters’ websites to social platforms. It seemed to make the most sense to follow where the audience was, and audiences had moved en masse to myriad social platforms before settling on Facebook’s platforms and, to a lesser extent, Twitter (well and now TikTok).

As I said in the Media Bulletin:

“Eventually, those early on-site community projects were shuttered. NPR, Reuters, Recode, The Verge and USA Today closed their comment sections. As NPR’s public editor said of the decision, “The audience itself has decided for NPR, choosing to engage much more via social media, primarily on Twitter and Facebook, rather than in the comments section.” Unfortunately, outsourcing their relationships to audiences on social platforms has had disastrous effects on publishers.”

The Third Era: Membership and Community

Now publishers and broadcasters have a renewed interest in membership and community. While NPR - US public radio - has had a membership strategy since its inception, the model is expanding, from small local start-ups to large publishers. For community outlets and public media, membership means a sense of belonging and connecting to the mission. But membership can also mean exclusivity, which is what Elle is trying to do with its membership model with its Collective. Hearst and DC Thomson are rolling out several different approaches to community depending on the product. DC Thomson’s newspapers are leaning into the nature of community and place. It’s Stylist title is focusing on activism and empowerment for the women who read it.

For news publishers, I believe relationships are key to responding to the decline in trust in journalism. Trust is not abstract, and it is built on genuine engagement between publishers and their audiences.

The challenges are strategic, cultural and organisational we well as material. Strategically and culturally, organisations will need to develop clear propositions and the capabilities - editorially and technically - to carry out these strategies. Organisationally, it will be a challenge to develop and find the talent as well as reconfigure their operations to manage these strategies. And lastly, it will be a material challenge. It takes time and investment, and those are in short supply in media now.

The technology has matured with services like Coral and Viafoura, which leverage AI to ease the management of comments and offer new ways for publishers to interact with audiences.

Viafoura has some excellent data on why the effort is worth it. They say that audiences actively engaged in comment communities are six times more likely to subscribe. It proves the hypothesis that drove a lot of original engagement strategies - that engagement would lead to more time on-site and a deeper relationship with the media outlet. Moreover, with reader revenue now a meaningful part of many publishers’ and broadcasters’ strategies, this engagement translates to revenue. Greater trust and higher revenue are the key KPIs that will measure the success of these strategies.

Now onto the key media stories from the past week. David Cohn has worked at the intersection of media and technology for years now, and at this moment of immense change in media, he riffs on the environmental three Rs - reduce, recycle and reuse. says that publishers need to reduce reliance on platforms - the issue of an owned or rented audience. Read on to find out how he thinks recycling and reuse are relevant to publishers.

The Fix spoke to Mattia Peretti about his career river - the unique path professionally that he has taken. From a local radio station in Italy to LSE working with JournalismAI, he talks about that professional journey. This is just one bit of insight from the piece: “A helpful distinction Peretti suggests is discerning ‘knowledge tasks’ from ‘language tasks’. Current generative AI systems do a poor job producing content just based on prompt, but they are much better with repackaging existing content, meaning “language tasks’”.

One of the major changes this year will be the end of third-party cookies. The Press Gazette says that publishers must fight this new move by Google. During a time when digital advertising revenue has fallen dramatically for many publishers, the PG says that this will only make the situation worse.

For one of the UK’s largest publishers, Reach, they have announced a strategy to respond to the end of third-party cookies:

  • First-party data collected through its customer value strategy

  • Contextual advertising through its in-house AI-powered tool Mantis

  • And industry ID and cookie-less solutions.

A very bad start to 2024 for US media

Last week was particularly grim for US publishers, the LATimes laid off 20 percent of its staff. There was a strike at Condé Nast due to the expectation of job cuts while the company is engaged in contract negotiations. And there is a story about how all of the turmoil is making journalism students concerned about their professional opportunities

Reuter’s Institute annual survey: Media leaders are anxious about referral traffic and AI, leaning into reader revenue

Nic Newman at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has released his annual trends and predictions report based on interviews with 300 media leaders from more than 50 countries and territories around the world.

  • Less than half of the leaders - editors, CEOs and digital executives - (47%) say they are confident about journalism’s prospects this year, and 12% say that they have low confidence.

  • Chartbeat shows that traffic is down from Facebook by 48% to news sites, and two-thirds of the leaders said that they are concerned about this sharp decline.

  • More than that, there are concerns that search-generative experiences and AI chatbots pose additional threats to traffic to news sites.

  • While 2023 ended with Axel Springer striking a big deal with OpenAI, half of those surveyed thought that little money would come from AI companies for licencing. And almost a third thought the major cash would go to big players (like Springer).

  • A majority (56%) of publishers were looking to leverage AI for back-end news automation. The other applications for AI include better recommendations (37%) and commercial uses (28%).

  • More publishers will stop the presses this year.

Some leaders believe that they can or must build direct relationships with their audiences to break their dependency on the platforms. Much of this isn’t new, but Nic has quantified the level of anxiety amongst media leaders. And while some publishers feel so stung by the loss of referrals that they are questioning their past reliance on platforms, other publishers are looking for new platforms including TikTok and WhatsApp to reach audiences. I think that there is a middle ground in which platforms are understood as ways to raise awareness of your brand but that they are understood as a part of a larger conversion process to a range of conversion goals including newsletter signups, registration and subscription.

Reading this, I have concerns. Publishers are looking to create more video, more newsletters and more podcasts. Much of this feels like publishers are going back to the well, turning to traffic-driving formats as the traffic from search and social dries up.

Advertising was soft in 2023, and 80% of those surveyed will continue to invest in subscriptions and membership, more than either traditional display or native advertising. The survey also hinted that subscription growth is slowing.

It sounds like another year of upheaval in journalism. A year full of elections will drive traffic, but it’s unclear if that traffic will translate into more revenue or more trust.

The first story below is Nic’s write-up about the report, and the following are two summaries.

Building on the responses from the survey, big publishers and broadcasters will seek leverage to strike deals with AI firms. Exhibit A is Fox trying to use blockchain to help media companies keep track of how their content is being used. The system is designed to empower media companies to manage how LLMs use their content.

Here is OpenAI’s response to the New York Times’ lawsuit. It sounds conciliatory, and the company says that it wants to strike a deal with the Times and other media companies. However, they also accuse the Times of manipulating its system to create the ‘regurgitation’ that the newspaper cited in its suit, and they say that they are working to eliminate the LLM regurgitating aka copying/plagiarising content.

OpenAI launches a store to make it easier to create custom AI chatbots.

Stop treating AI like magic and start focusing on targeted, operational experiments

I did something rare over the holidays. I took a break and downed tools so that I could start 2024 recharged and ready for everything that this year will bring. I hope that all of you had some downtime as well.

My downtime has left me in a reflective mood. 2023 was a challenging year for people in the media, and back in the US where I’m from, tens of thousands of people working in the media lost their jobs last year. Mark Stenberg of Adweek called it the “worst year in digital media”. And in the UK, where I live now, friends of mine lost or left their jobs.

I’m a survivor and so will all of you talented folks, even though it’s stressful and extremely challenging. I survived the crash, the one that wiped out a wave of early internet companies but also wiped out the careers of an early wave of digital journalists. I know so many incredibly smart young journalists like myself who lost their jobs and couldn’t find work in the industry because it didn’t value their skills at the time. A few years later, they would be desperate for staff with their skills. Increasing precarity has been the trajectory of the industry. I worked for the BBC for eight years, and half the time there were cuts. I worked at The Guardian for three and a half years, and half the time there were cuts. I worked for Gannett for 21 months, and as I have told many friends, I survived the first six rounds of cuts but not the seventh. It has been a lot of turmoil, and it has not always been easy to keep my confidence.

Of course, the other challenge for me and so many others is a loss of professional identity. Who are we outside of newsrooms? How will we ever find a job with such purpose and meaning again? Trust me when I say that there are a lot of ways to use your skills to do meaningful work. My career has been a wild ride and a fascinating journey and will continue to be. If you know of someone who needs to talk, point them in my direction.

Now onto the new year. 2024 is already upon us. The Press Gazette has a good overview of the challenges that media leaders are focused on in this new year and how they are looking to respond. The challenges are familiar: loss of advertising revenue, loss of social and search traffic and anxiety over AI. I think a lot of this can be summed up by a renewed sense of ownership, with the shift to first-party data and owned platforms and owning relationships with audiences

Keeping our heads about AI

I’m not sure that I agree with the Press Gazette that the New York Times is seeking the “destruction of OpenAI and Microsoft LLMs”. I think they are rightfully offended by the lifting of their content. Plagiarism is a cardinal sin in US journalism, and the NY Times has found a wealth of examples of OpenAI copying and pasting their content. The New York Times want to be compensated for the theft of their content.

This is part of the response to LLMs by the industry. In my professional journey, I have seen too many folks treat technology as magic. They think what technology does is the realm of Harry Potter. It is much more like The Matrix: It is a logical system and sets of tools. AI offers up many operational benefits for many industries, including media. It can optimise front-page displays and tailor them for each known user. It can create personalised newsletters. It can support consistency of metadata, which can support improved discovery.

And my friend, Gina Chua at Semafor, has some other advice on how to use data and AI. He experimented building very focused chatbots to summarise reporters’ notebooks, develop interactive experiences and explain technical expertise to “resource-strapped newsrooms”. He came away impressed..

And now onto other topics. Puzzles and quizzes can build habit and engagement. Here are some examples of how to do that.

In the middle of the last decade, I used to hold up theSkimm and its newsletter-based business to help millennial women get informed quickly as an example of a great model. But like so many other millennially-focused outlets, it hasn’t aged well and continues to struggle to diversify.

It is interesting to see how many newspapers are getting into TV, not just video but TV. The Boston Globe (a customer of Pugpig, where I work) is just the latest example.

Podcasting is still attracting money. What is interesting about Podimo is that is operating in non-English markets - Denmark, Norway, Germany and Spain. Will this investment help it to break out into larger markets? (Colour me sceptical.)

How a Swedish news publisher increased click-through-rates 130% through iterative experiments

I’m not quite ready to do a year-in-review piece, but when I do, there is a lot to reflect on over the past year. During my career in digital media and working with digital media projects, there have been few years where I’ve seen as much change. Despite the job losses this year and the change, I think it’s a little more hopeful because we do have models and tactics to build successful media businesses. More on that in that in the year-end wrap. Now onto the stories..

Data-driven optimisation is one of the major positive results of product-driven cultures at news organisations, and INMA has a case study from Sweden of how VK used a “data-driven, iterative process” to improve its click-through rate.

As I said, we have some great tactics on how to increase revenue in media, and on the journalism side, WAN-IFRA has a great rundown of the stories that it has done about reader revenue. From paid newsletters to tactics to grow subscriptions, WAN-IFRA has some great case studies.

In my day job at Pugpig, we write a weekly newsletter, and we have a mutual admiration society with Madeleine and Marion from The Audiencers, which has excellent pieces about audience development, digital media transformation and subscription optimisation. A great insight in this piece is to allow for the novelty effect to wear off so that you can see how things have settled down into discernable patterns. As we have said at the Pugpig Media Bulletin, make sure to test only one variable at a time.

I will write more about this in my year-end wrap, but it’s been a tough year both in the US and the UK for folks working in media. And at the end of the year, I had a few friends who were affected by layoffs. Adweek’s Mark Stenberg looks back at the job losses in the US and how many players it affected, particularly in the internet space. And he writes how advertisers are now shifting away from the internet as a channel.

Another theme this year has been regulators battles with tech giants in Australia, Canada, the EU and US states. Canada recently struck a deal with Google for payments to news publishers, and now Australia is looking to share the details of the deals that tech giants have made with news publishers there.

This is data for the UK TV industry, and while I haven’t heard similar figures for newspapers and magazines, I can’t believe that it is any rosier. However, the UK market has its own unique headwinds that aren’t the same for others.

Content discovery is a major issue in TV and podcasts, but improved discovery can also support improved engagement with text content. And AI personalisation of newsletters and homepages is an opportunity for publishers to apply AI.

In light of the Axel Springer-OpenAI deal, Damian Radcliffe outlines steps to create a successful AI strategy

The big news this week was German media giant Axel Springer’s deal with OpenAI, more on that in a bit. Before we get into that, I think it’s worth taking a step back and getting some strategic thinking from my friend Damin Radcliffe. His starting point is not to jump on the bandwagon, which is to say that any move needs to be considered and carried out with intentionality. A media company needs to establish guidelines and bring the entire company along through the process, he says. And lastly, he says that media companies need to protect their IP and monetise it when possible.

TechCrunch has the details on the deal. OpenAI will create summaries of content for its properties including those that are behind paywall gates. The agreement includes licencing and attribution.

My friend Adam Tinworth summarises other details of the deal. Axel Springer will get to use OpenAI to improve its products. Adam also puts this in the context of other developments at Springer such as its decision to close down aggregator Upday. He thinks that this bodes well for big publishers, but I also think that smaller publishers need to come together and make sure that their content is licenced properly as well.

In other news, the Press Gazette reviews what it has learned from five years of daily news podcasting. It is a competitive space with the New York Times’ Daily. But The Guardian takes a slightly different take on the model as it focuses on its in-depth journalism.

Today in Focus has built a loyal listenership, with 76% of the audience listening for at least a year and 35% for more than three years. It also has a higher-than-average proportion of listeners aged 25 to 34 and of women (52%), according to The Guardian.

Aron Pilhofer is moving on from News Catalyst to lead product at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and he takes time before he moves on to recap the lessons that he learned. One thing that I appreciate is that they didn’t have the resources “to drive the change (they) wanted to see” on their own so they used a networked, collaborative approach. It’s a good piece on how to partner smartly to have the impact you want to have.

LIONPubs also has some sage wisdom on building sustainable local news businesses. Direct funding alone won’t make them sustainable so they invest in helping companies get operationally ready and invest in business hires as well as editorial talent. (They also need to have a business plan as early as possible.)

This is a classic story of digital transformation about aligning editorial teams and focusing on user needs. They realised that their production cycles were not in sync with their audiences’ behaviour. More than that, they struggled because 90% of their revenue still comes from print. This was the story with publishers across the West, and now, it is coming to India as well.

To guide their transformation, they are focusing on users and also developing metrics so that they have a common understanding of what success looks like. And their transformation is focused on digital subscription.

Twitter has long obsessed journalists, often in unhealthy ways. It did drive the conversation about politics and sports, but for a lot of other news especially local news, it didn’t really have that much of an impact. As I have said a number of times, I’ve seen the analytics at hundreds of publishers, and Twitter rarely ever drove more than single digit referrals. And even before Musk started breaking the platform, Twitter’s analytics were increasingly poor. This is a good corrective view of Twitter. Some incredible folks worked there who tried to increase the positive impact of the platform, but sadly, all of that has been undone. This isn’t to detract from their work, but it is to add some perspective

Software is helping local media in the US create neighbourhood-level newsletters

I am all for using technology smartly to support local journalism, and it is interesting to see public media in Chicago use the Crosstown newsletter platform to add local data to a story so that it can be tailored for each neighborhood. For WBEZ in Chicago, that meant a reporter wrote one story, and the software produced 77 different versions. They say that the open rate is more than 70%, which means that the newsletters are finding a receptive audience. Fascinating.

A bit of a disclaimer first, not only is the New European a customer for Pugpig, where I work, but my team is currently doing some consulting for them. A couple of years, they launched a crowd-funding investment programme to allow them to market their newspaper. It has paid off so that they will be in the black with their pro-European British newspaper and digital news service. I like that they used this funding model to create a sustainable subscription business.

Future announced a decline in revenue, especially in the US market with the CEO putting the rough patch down to being hit hard by Google Algorithm changes, AI and the macro-economic environment. They saw a major decline in their technology commerce business with soft Black Friday sales, but sports and gardening were bright spots. They are splitting their portfolio into three segments. What is interesting to me is that these three segments aren’t audience-focused but rather focused on their performance: hero, halo and cash generator brands.

Cheddar was one of those news brands for millennials, and as it is up for what Brian Morrissey described as a “fire sale”, I wonder if this is an issue for media that was created for the generation’s moment but didn’t have a broader strategy.

News companies are getting serious about AI, and the New York Times has just announced its editorial director of A.I. Initiatives, Zach Seward. He will start by touring the newsroom and establishing principles for the use of A.I.

The Nieman Lab posts that caught my eye

Sarah Marshall highlights how post-platform has meant a change in platforms for her teams. She highlights work her teams have done on “Threads, WhatsApp Channels, Instagram Broadcasts, and the soon-to-launch Facebook Channels”. And YouTube Shorts has seen explosive growth as Comscore highlighted during its recent year in review. What I like about Sarah’s post is that it is focused on audience needs not just changes in platforms.

This piece caught my eye because it shows how a mix of public and institutional funders are trying to find a way forward for local news. Add this project in California to the Press Forward half-billion-dollar fund announced this year to other experiments such as information districts that leverage local libraries in the US, there are several efforts in the US to restore local news coverage.

After the AI screw-up at Sports Illustrated, there has been a leadership shake-up. But this coverage of the fall-out is a classic example of toxic leadership.

This is an important question, and this piece looks at some of the things that young journalists will need to be prepared for as they enter the field. I think that young journalists will also need to be taught how be entrepreneurial as they navigate an uncertain career path.

The case for mobile apps for local news publishers

Guy Tasaka makes a very sturdy case for mobile apps for local news publishers. He highlights stats on how much more engagement apps users. App users consumer more than 6x more sessions per month than desktop or mobile web users, and more than, he breaks out the incredible amount of adviews -151 - that mobile app users consume than desktop - 10 - or mobile web -7. And push notifications are such an important tool for publishers to engage users. Tasaka is right to highlight that publishers have aggregators to content with, but apps are an important tool in the publishing stack for local news organisations.

Print represents 25% of The Guardian’s revenue, and their publishing director Mylene Sylvestre attributes the resilience of their print business on distinctive content and a global footprint. It underscores how much British publishers are looking to a global market for growth. And both in their digital and print operations, they are looking to leverage data. I also think it’s interesting how they are looking to convert print readers in the UK to subscribers. That is different than the traditional newsstand sales in the UK, but it provides a more stable basis for their business.

And licencing deals like this one for the Guardian are a new source of revenue for major newspapers and other publishers.

I had to double-check the date on this story. Is is 2023 or 2017? No, it is definitely this year. Subscriptions for groups have been around for a while, but this is a good case study of how they could work for local publishers. Subscribers get access to special content including dedicated discussion groups, exclusive content, polls and a special badge on their profile. It is an interesting play for a local publisher. Could this scale for larger publishers?

For all of the smart uses of AI, there are some very public and very stupid uses of it that will damage a lot of businesses and the use cases for AI. Following Sports Illustrated being caught using AI to generate content. Publishers under pressure will be using generative AI. Will it be enough for readers to alert them that the piece was written by AI? Or will it further erode trust?

And here is an article about the Sports Illustrated AI controversy. So sad.

It is positive to see the industry being proactive with policies and processes to govern the use of AI in journalism. In another excellent piece from The Fix they dig into the new Reporters without Borders guidelines. One criticism of the guidelines is that they were not written by a broad group of stakeholders. They were written with journalism unions and researchers only, The Fix says. I also find it interesting that WAN-IFRA has decided not to promote the charter due to unrealistic expectations. It’s a valuable piece.

A thoughtful piece from The Conversation on what news organisations are doing as their content fades, or in the case of Canada has completely disappeared on Facebook, on social media platforms.

Just a few weeks before the Online News Act is set to go into effect in Canada, Google has struck a deal with Google. I am sure that news companies are hoping that a similar deal can now be struck with Facebook and that their visibility online will be restored.

Social Media this week: Musk drops the F-bomb on advertisers and disinformation networks build ahead of the US elections

Ahead of the US elections, Russian and Chinese misinformation networks are growing their audiences, Meta has warned. It is a worrying that after all that has happened over the last eight years that the US does not seem prepared to tackle this issue. But efforts to deal with them seem to have been hampered by partisanship.

And, of course, Elon Musk looks to be preparing for a messy divorce with advertisers. This comes as those in the ad industry are calling on CEO Linda Yaccarino to resign to preserve her standing and reputation in the industry.