Innovations in Local News celebrated at the INMA Global Media Awards – Part Two

19 June 2021
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Following on from our previous blog post, we explore a second batch of innovations in local news celebrated at the INMA Global Media Awards.

Streamlining Content for better Subscriber experiences

Constant evaluation of content is vital to ensure that publishers stay relevant in the face of competitors. In the face of annual decline happen over several years, Dutch publisher Mediahuis decided to transform their newsroom. This transformation took them from print-first to digital-first. To do this, Mediahuis went about a process of identifying which news topics were best performers, and which were unproductive. They did this by adopting the 20/80 rule: 20% of news stories realise 80% of the results.

In doing this, Mediahuis’ titles across Europe changed their distribution strategies and published articles on the relevant websites at different periods of the say based on reader activity. They adjusted the agenda of their journalists based on news classification and named entity recognition techniques. This adaptation and streamlining of their content has been highly successful. Mediahuis’ decline has been turned into growth, with an increase of 350% in subscriber engagement being seen as well as an increase of paywall hits of 222% and an increase of online sales by 256%. In recognition of this success, they received the third place award for “Best Use of Data to Drive Subscriptions, Content, Product Design”.

In Sweden, Göteborg-Posten were recognised for their innovation receiving an honourable mention also for the “Best Use of Data to Drive Subscriptions, Content, Product Design” award. The goal of their project was to be more able to easily identify which subjects over or under performed. They then took lessons from this to education the newsroom and help them to identify low performing content.

As a result of the campaign, subscriptions grew at Göteborg-Posten at their highest rate since 1974. Alongside this growth, daily readership grew by 24% during the first 2 thirds of 2020, the largest growth in Sweden! Most notably, the editor of Gothenburg history increased his material’s readership by 690% after streamlining the focus of his content with the Head of Data Analysis.

Through our EngageReaders software, we have also noticed the importance of highlighting article performance. Our solution helps publishers such as DuMont spot under performers, over performers and hidden gems in their daily editions. Interested in seeing how it works? Contact our team now.

Local News targeting growth in the pandemic

Whilst many publishers were targeting survival during the pandemic, others saw it as an opportunity to target growth. German publisher Funke was one of these.

Having previously neglected the role of newsletters, Funke quickly realised their strategic importance in converting subscribers to paying customers. Funke set themselves the aim of growing their newsletter subscriber base by 200,000. Positioning their newsletters as high-quality products, they gave a window to paid content for several local news titles.

Funke’s newsletter strategy saw the publisher launch several different types of newsletters. These included regional newsletters and a positive news newsletter called “Good Week”. By December 2020, Funke had reached its’ target of quintupling its’ newsletter subscribers. Alongside this, 4-6% of the newsletter subscribers had converted into paid subscribers after 6 months. This subscriber growth was welcomed by the Funke teams and also saw the newsletter team win first place in the “Best Initiative to Register Users” for a media group.

Funke’s work didn’t stop here. Funke digital decided the pandemic was the perfect time to increase its’ digital market share for its’ title “Hamburger Abendblatt”. By building a new digital-only brand “”, Funke were able to create an entirely new digital brand in just a few months.

By utilising the news of several of the local titles, the platform utilised news from its’ central “DerWestern” hub to provide readers with highly important content. The aim was to make this service indispensable for their readers whilst becoming market leaders for local news in Northern Germany. now receives 10 million monthly visits and has doubled the digital reach of Funke within 6 months. The project received third place in the award for “Best Product and Tech Innovation” and 4 other awards. It’s fair to say that Funke have been a big pandemic winner.

Giving readers more choice

During the pandemic, people were hungry to find new ways to spend time and grow their knowledge. With most of us getting tired of sitting in front of Netflix after a week, publishers were presented with an opportunity to grow their base. A particularly easy way for them to do this was through monetising their pre-existing content. Winning both the best initiative to retain and acquire subscribers, Amedia in Norway launched “+Alt: All News in One Subscription”. Being Norway’s largest group of local newspapers, Amedia is home to over 70 local titles covering most of the country. Traditionally, articles were available only to people in the local area for each title.

To capitalise on the huge amount of content of offer from their journalists across the country, Amedia’s +Alt subscription offered subscribes access to all their titles through a single log-in. This new subscription meant that readers could access upwards of 1,000 articles daily, alongside a significant archive of news.

The subscription has been extremely successful. Subscribers have the chance to reconnect with their hometowns or visit news in the areas of their families and friends. In the first 4 days of the subscription, Amedia made 10,000 sales. By providing access to this content from local areas across the country, local news media is thriving in Norway.

Aiding local news readers in the digital transition

In the land down under, News Corp Australia helped readers through the digital transition. Coming second in the award for the “Best Idea to Encourage Reader Engagement”, News Corp launched “Project Ella”.

News Corp embarked on a Reader Roadshow in Queensland. They did this to ensure that their long-term loyal local print readers could use digital news with print limited due to the pandemic. The aim of this was to help manage the digital transition for their readers. The sessions not only explained how to navigate the websites of local and regional papers owned by the group, but it also gave them information on how to access their edition products, including archived content and editions, and have one on one sessions for greater detail.

Across the 9 locations, 600 attendees registered and were able to enhance the power of digital. The sessions helped to spread the message that “Local news is here to stay”. Of those who attended the sessions, 70% still hold a subscription with News Corp.

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