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Habit formation: How The Wall Street Journal turned user-level data into a strategy to keep subscribers coming back
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March 17, 2014, 2:23 p.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK: www.latimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   March 17, 2014

The East Coast woke up this morning to news that an earthquake had hit Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, folks woke up to…an actual earthquake. But who broke that story?

Indeed, Ken Schwencke, programmer and journalist at the Los Angeles Times, has been using a bot for more than a year to auto-report and publish newswire-type stories about earthquakes in California.

Schwenke continues to pursue the possibilities for robot reporting at the Times, even considering the possibility of having one bot talk to another.

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Habit formation: How The Wall Street Journal turned user-level data into a strategy to keep subscribers coming back
The Journal went on a quest to identify the user actions — an app download, an article share, repeat reading of a particular reporter’s stories — that can turn a new subscriber into a loyal one. Then it turned that knowledge into churn-reducing action.
TV is still the most common way for Americans to get local news, but fewer people are watching
Cable news is growing, local TV news is declining, and network news is roughly flat.
SmartNews has shown it can drive traffic. Can it drive subscriptions too?
“If the publisher ecosystem is healthy, then SmartNews is healthy. That’s going to be an important thrust going forward.”