Defining a focus, and then saying no

“In 2017, the publishers that optimize for quality of content over quantity of clicks will earn the loyalty — and the business — of readers. Their audiences may be smaller, but they’ll be more valuable.”

2017 will be the year that reader loyalty is tested.

keren-goldshlagerFaced with a new political reality that many didn’t expect, readers are looking to deepen their relationships with publications that can help them make sense of the world. In recent weeks, nonprofit newsrooms have seen a “flood” of donations, and the New York Times has gained hundreds of thousands of new subscribers.

It’s tempting for publishers to coast on readers’ renewed passion for journalism. But they shouldn’t get complacent. There’s a clear opportunity for publishers to channel this post-election energy into something more reliable. Those that develop strategies now to double-down on long-term loyalty will succeed in 2017.

They’ll do this in a few ways:

  • Focusing on reader support: Established publications from Slate to Politico have been selling digital subscriptions for years, and here at Medium, independent publishers like Latterly and Femsplain collect monthly membership fees from their loyal audience. In 2017, we will see more and more publishers of all sizes focusing on recurring — not campaign-based — financial support from readers.
  • Putting people front and center: Loyalty thrives when personalities are able to shine. Nate Silver has ignited a community of data enthusiasts at FiveThirtyEight, while Arianna Huffington is starting conversations about wellbeing through Thrive Global. In 2017, publishers will continue to build brands around their talent. They’ll also create places for their most devoted readers to congregate, whether through podcasts, live events or Slack channels.
  • Rallying around new modes of measurement: In 2016, publishers began to reach a consensus about the broken nature of digital metrics, which over-report on fleeting impressions while saying little about the loyalty of a given reader. In 2017, we’ll see an earnest industry-wide effort to test additional frameworks, more focused on engagement, intention and time. Platforms will begin — or continue — taking this into account, iterating upon the incentive structures they create.
  • Defining a focus — and then saying no: Smart publishers will move away from creating everything for everyone as a tactic to generate viral traffic. Instead, we’ll see more focus. In June, The Economist blogged about their decision to skip posting a celebrity-centric video in favor of exploring the news more deeply on a podcast. And just last month, Politico veterans launched Axios with a promise to distinguish themselves by “delivering at a very high level” on their commitment to excellence.

In 2017, the publishers that optimize for quality of content over quantity of clicks will earn the loyalty — and the business — of readers. Their audiences may be smaller, but they’ll be more valuable.

Keren Goldshlager works on Medium’s publisher development team.

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Errin Haines   Chaos or community?

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

AX Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Richard Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Trushar Barot   API or die

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media