Heidenheimer Zeitung tackles newsroom reorganisation primarily based on habits and issues of native readers


This text was originally published on the Knowledge Base, WAN-IFRA’s useful resource centre that options case research from Table Stakes Europe on tips on how to speed up the transition from print to digital, attain new audiences and higher interact your native communities. All case research included within the Information Base can be found in English, French, German and Spanish.

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In 2019, Heidenheimer Zeitung (HZ) set formidable aims to speed up its digital transformation. Key to this was transitioning from a print-driven workflow to publishing extra articles on-line all through the day, whereas additionally figuring out particular audiences to serve with its journalism. HZ additionally aimed to succeed in 1,000 digital subscribers, and enhance viewers and digital expertise amongst its journalists.

These objectives had been principally reached. As of late most of HZ’s content material is revealed first on-line, and the newsroom’s digital capabilities have drastically improved. The writer has additionally seen a powerful improve in digital subscriptions, but it surely has additionally struggled with a excessive churn price: right now, HZ has greater than 700 digital subscribers, says Catrin Weykopf, who’s answerable for HZ’s on-line version and digital improvement inside its editorial administration workforce.

HZ labored on these objectives as a part of its participation within the first spherical of Table Stake Europe. Designed primarily for native and regional information organisations, Desk Stakes is a programme to assist drive digital income development by re-focusing on audiences. Now in its third yr in Europe, it’s a collaboration of WAN-IFRA and Desk Stakes architect Doug Smith in partnership with the Google News Initiative Digital Growth Program.

By way of serving particular pursuits, the writer now significantly focuses on the audiences fascinated by:

  • Crime and justice
  • Buying, consuming and leisure
  • Site visitors and commuting
  • Native soccer workforce (FC Heidenheim)
  • Native novice soccer
  • Coronavirus

Readers can decide in to obtain push notifications on any of those subjects, and there are additionally devoted newsletters for the FC Heidenheim followers; the individuals fascinated by purchasing, consuming and leisure; and the commuters.

Weykopf says these audiences have a central function when the newsroom meets each Monday to debate the plans for the approaching week.

“We put markers in several colors for the subjects that shall be written about throughout that week,” she says. The color coding makes it straightforward to see when content material for a selected viewers shall be revealed, and if the plans embrace sufficient content material for all audiences. “For instance, we would see that there’s just one upcoming piece about visitors, so we all know we must always do not less than yet one more.”

Initially HZ was involved that the viewers group fascinated by native novice soccer is likely to be too small, however this has turned out to be a really loyal and engaged viewers. Weykopf says that reporting – and particularly picture galleries – from native video games have been profitable by way of producing new subscriptions.

The audience-first method to protecting a brand new grocery store

Relating to transitioning to extra digital-centric workflows, Weykopf says being a small writer is each a bonus and a downside. Due to having little hierarchy, HZ is ready to make fast choices and act quicker than a few of the greater publishers. The draw back is that they lack a few of the extra specialised expertise you would possibly discover in greater newsrooms.

“For instance, we don’t have an information analyst. So in relation to monitoring and metrics, we now have to do it ourselves,” Weykopf says, including that she has discovered to make use of Google Knowledge Studio to generate and distribute experiences about their web site’s efficiency.

Relating to metrics, the newsroom tracks the articles that had been written for the precise audiences to observe their efficiency and the way a lot engagement they generate in comparison with different content material.

In accordance with Weykopf, the info exhibits that audiences-related contents provides as much as 60 % of the content material that subscribers devour per day – up from 40% once they started monitoring this. “I believe that’s a hit, as a result of that’s greater than half.” (For non-paying readers, the determine is between 40% and 50%.)

Viewers-first pondering has additionally influenced the best way HZ approaches reporting about native information. Weykopf offers a concrete instance of how they lined a current occasion of their group: the opening of a brand new grocery store.

“Earlier than, we’d have gone to the promoting division downstairs and stated, go there and promote adverts,” she says. “Now, there have been photographers going to the opening to take photos, and we had three articles concerning the grocery store: one the day earlier than opening, one on the day of the opening, and one per week after.”

“We requested the supervisor of the grocery store in the event that they had been happy with the variety of prospects, and we requested the shoppers what they considered the brand new grocery store. Three years in the past, nobody on this newsroom would have written tales like that!”

There was a number of curiosity within the tales concerning the grocery store, and the picture galleries even generated a number of new subscribers. “It is smart: persons are curious however don’t wish to go as a result of they suppose there shall be too many individuals on the opening. However they’ll simply click on on the images and see what it appears to be like like.”

Launching a night transient to fight information fatigue

One other instance of how HZ has tailored its content material technique to suit its readers’ wants is its each day information briefing. This had its origins within the COVID pandemic: quickly after HZ began protecting the subject, they realised that the quantity of content material they had been publishing about it was an excessive amount of for many readers.

This led to the launch of a night abstract, that includes related articles concerning the evolution of the pandemic. This each day transient, revealed on the web site and distributed via push notifications and social media, was extremely popular amongst readers.

As information concerning the coronavirus slowed down in the summertime of 2020, HZ expanded the night abstract to cowl additionally different necessary information of the day. At this level the each day abstract additionally went behind the paywall, having beforehand been freely obtainable.

“To start with we had a outstanding variety of subscriptions due to this abstract. When it went behind the paywall, it grew to become a vital aspect for the underside of the funnel,” Weykopf says.

Most days, the each day transient is HZ’s most learn article of the day. “Individuals actually have adopted this rhythm of consuming the information. They anticipate this piece to be revealed within the night, they usually can have the total abstract of the day,” Weykopf says.

Because the warfare in Ukraine continues to unfold, HZ is drawing from its learnings from Desk Stakes Europe in figuring out tips on how to cowl the battle. From the beginning, the workforce created a brand new tag that permits them to trace tales associated to Ukraine. This lets the editorial workforce monitor how readers interact with the subject.

“In the long term we are able to see if persons are extra within the emotional tales, or the financial points of the disaster, for instance. It’s actually necessary to comply with this, since it’s going to permit us to react to our readers’ pursuits,” she says.


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