Learning from hyperlocals to make sure the news still matters

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How do you define success as a local journalist these days? Number of front pages? Number of page views online? A sense of job well done at the end of the week?

All of the above make sense in the here-and-now, an instant sign of job well done. But to find the key to a sustainable future, future, maybe journalists need to look at things a little different.

Big numbers against digital audiences are great, and very important. We saw that in this week’s half-yearly release of the ABCes in the UK for the regional press. But uniques and page views only tell part of the story, and they don’t tell the really important bit: What people think of you.

So to define success, you need to define how you want people to think of you. Most people want to be liked, but that’s probably not a great place for a news organisation to start. Being able to prove that you are trusted, seen as reliable, and seen as useful and entertaining are probably the goals we should be aiming for.

Audience metrics allow us to see this, and newsrooms I work with increasingly focus on pages per visit, visits per user, time spent on site, increase in ‘brand visits’ – people visiting directly or via searches based on the brand name –  and volume of organic shares on social media. For organisations which can offer metrics to support newsrooms in monitoring this – think BuzzSumo, or Chartbeat – now is a very good time to be in business.

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The big thing newsrooms can learn from the i

the i

Many tens of thousands of words have been written about the pending transformation of the Independent into a digital-only product, and the sale of its little brother, the i, to Johnston Press.

Columns and posts by smarter people than me have attempted to answer whether the Independent can thrive in an online world, what Johnston Press will do with the i and what it means for JP’s large stable of regional publications.

I’m not going to attempt to cover any of those, because I don’t really have anything worth saying which hasn’t already been said – and besides, it would be just speculation on my part anyway.

But if there’s one thing newsrooms everywhere should take from the sale of the i, it’s the way i editor Oly Duff has ensured readers have been kept informed since the announcement, and encouraged readers to get involved with a debate about the implications.

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