Value is the watchword

“Watch for intensified pitches stressing the value proposition: Exclusive ‘news that you can only get here.’ Trustworthy journalists. Reporters who have deep sourcing and deep knowledge of a crucial beat.”

“Value” may be the watchword for journalism in 2018.

Readers are being overwhelmed by a blizzard of news from more outlets than ever before. At the same time, more news organizations, desperate for survival as ad revenue shrivels, are shedding their timidity and charging for content.

How do publications dare demand that readers pay up, when readers have a dizzying array of options? The answer, of course: value.

Watch for intensified pitches stressing the value proposition: Exclusive “news that you can only get here.” Trustworthy journalists. Reporters who have deep sourcing and deep knowledge of a crucial beat.

This solicitation I got this week from The Economist is typical: “What if it were possible to cut to the chase and rely on one publication for insights, analysis and an assessment of what really matters? That possibility is a reality.” Their humble suggestion: Surprise, surprise, The Economist.

At STAT, we launched a premium subscription service (STAT Plus) a year ago as a pilot project for focused coverage of the biotech and pharma industries. We’ve been pleased with the results; it’s grown rapidly and steadily, and we’re selling more group subscriptions to institutions while continuing to draw in individual subscribers from a wide array of backgrounds. With that “value” notion in mind, we supplement our print and multimedia coverage with exclusive events, webinars, and live online chats with our reporters — which have proved a popular subscriber benefit.

Our metrics show that the readers most willing to pay for our journalism are clamoring for these three types of stories:

1. Analysis, analysis, analysis. They want reporters’ unique insights to help them prepare for upcoming events (a crucial clinical trial readout, a major medical conference) or to help them understand news that’s just happened. They’re eager, too, for analysis that helps them look forward and understand what’s next in drug development.

2. Scoops. Goes without saying that these are always popular!

3. “Hey Joe” stories. That’s what we have dubbed a category of more lighthearted — dare we say fun — pieces that present intriguing information a reader might want to mention to a colleague over lunch. These always do well with our subscribers; they’re a nice break from the endless flood of urgent news.

As much as it can be intoxicating to see a story picked up on Reddit or Drudge, those fleeting measures have been replaced by deeper questions about our readers: How long were they engaged? How many stories did they read? Did they come back to the site days, weeks, months later? Did they sign up for a free newsletter? And, most important these days, did they type in their credit card number and signal they’re willing to pay for quality journalism?

Journalism still revolves around those basic questions: who, what, why, when, where, and how. But in our newsroom, we’re increasingly focused on these questions: How can we help our reporters deliver first-rate journalism that’s worth paying to read? And how do we reinforce that value to readers, day after day and story after story?

Rick Berke is executive editor of STAT.

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Paul Ford   Go global

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Juleyka Lantigua   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Errin Haines   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Burt Herman   Things get real

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Richard Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Jake Levine   The return to now

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change