Medill’s Spiegel Research Center (SRC), a leader in consumer and audience-based research that drives financial outcomes, is analyzing many terabytes of anonymous data about reader behavior and customer motivation at three Learning Labs – the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Indianapolis Star. The goal: Identify what content and behaviors drive consumers to engage with and pay for local news.
The Northwestern University Knight Lab, renowned for its development of digital storytelling tools and platforms, is interviewing news consumers and assessing data on their online behavior to inspire creation of products, tools and approaches that are designed to improve reader engagement, bolster financial sustainability and better inform citizens.
Medill is analyzing data from a variety of media markets in a project to correlate local news consumption with other demographic factors in those areas. Each media market has its own personality, and no single solution can cure the problems of local news everywhere. But by identifying common characteristics, we can draw valid comparisons and share innovative ideas.
Revenue Models ‘Making Something Worth Paying For’
We focus on the theoretical promise, and the actual difficulty, of embracing a financial model built around direct payments from readers and users. Can thinking of these people as members or subscribers lead to real, ongoing engagement, or the sort of lifetime habit that formerly characterized profitable mass media in America?
Rise of the Nonprofits ‘Stop Thinking About Competition’
The increasingly familiar models adopted by public radio and the Texas Tribune are juxtaposed with interviewees’ increasing interest in philanthropic investment and a focus on specific niches where supply and demand can be carefully calibrated.
Innovation Not ‘just chasing flashy, shiny objects’
The interviews reveal a certain tension that has been created by perceived overuse of the word “innovation” without attention to context. No one denies that new ideas are central to navigating the present and the future, but how about creatively applying concepts that may have been around for more than a few months?
Local TV ‘Disruption Is Coming’
To fail to look past the obvious current struggles of local print organizations is to fail to understand what’s next for the medium where most Americans still say they get their local news. Sufficient money is still flowing in many local broadcast operations, but the slow pace of digital adoption in some places may augur poorly for the industry as pressure increases on revenue sources like retransmission fees.
The Future of Local News ‘To Do Different With Less’
This section’s title conveys a fundamental optimism that there still can be a future — in the right circumstances, with the right set of actions based on local-market discernment and careful attention to broader trends. Looking for simple answers? Don’t look here. Looking for a clear-eyed analysis of what still needs to be done? That crops up throughout.
Focusing: Why the Chicago Defender Went Digital-Only
The Chicago Defender, a highly influential black newspaper founded in 1905, announced in July 2019 that it would go online-only because of dwindling print circulation. ...
Diversifying: How a Newspaper Publisher Branched Out
Penny Muse Abernathy, a professor and the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, has done groundbreaking work ...
Knight Lab’s Class Brings Design Principles to Local News
A new Northwestern University class called Design for Local News isn’t trying to make minor tweaks in the current media environment. It’s going straight to ...
Medill Study Identifies ‘Paradigm Shift’ in How Local News Serves Readers Building Habit—Not Page Views—Matters Most For Keeping Subscribers, Data Analysis Finds
As online advertising lags, many local news organizations are shifting their strategy to focus on reader-based revenue models, especially digital subscriptions, as a path to ...
Medill’s Subscriber Data Analysis: How We Reached Conclusions
The Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University analyzed 13 terabytes of data from the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Indianapolis Star for its study, which was conducted ...
3 Takeaways on Medill’s Subscriber Data Analysis
As local news outlets find their advertising model faltering, earning revenue from readers has emerged as a more promising path to sustainability. That’s why a ...
A Paradox Emerges: Why Aren’t Avid Readers More Likely to Keep Subscriptions?
When Northwestern University researchers analyzed subscriber data from three major metro news outlets, they identified coverage areas and reader behaviors that correlated with customers keeping ...
To set the stage for our product development classes, we conducted field research to develop a qualitative understanding of local news audiences and potential audiences. ...
3 Leading News Organizations Serve as ‘Learning Labs’ for Local News Initiative Projects Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Indianapolis Star aim for insights and digital subscribers
Three leading U.S. news organizations are serving as “learning labs” for Northwestern University’s Local News Initiative, a project to harness data and other research tools ...