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The year of loyalty

“Gone are the days of aggregation by small and medium-sized brands. Gone are the days of chasing traffic. Gone are the days of one-size-fits all splashy marketing campaigns.”

Loyalty goes two ways for news organizations. Readers show them loyalty, but increasingly news organizations are learning how important it is to be loyal to their readers. In the next year, the most successful media companies will be the ones that focus on readers who are core to their audience and reward them for their readership.

Gone are the days of aggregation by small and medium-sized brands. Gone are the days of chasing traffic. Gone are the days of one-size-fits all splashy marketing campaigns. Today we are learning how to build targeted relationships with readers. That means finding new ways to reach them — and to keep them coming back.

At Stat, a site devoted to health, medicine and science, we are relentlessly focused on our audience. We publish both free content and paywalled content. For subscribers, we offer exclusive content and access to webinars and events, among other benefits.

But regardless we are determined to make sure readers know we are delivering them value. Every day, we’re thinking not only of what stories to write but a more fundamental question: are readers getting their money’s worth? Every day, we’re thinking of ways to remind readers of the value we’re giving them — not only through the journalism itself but through targeted emails.

Just as critical in attracting a loyal subscriber base is keeping our existing ones loyal. We pride ourselves on doing whatever we can to keep cancellations to a minimum.

The encouraging news is that quality watchdog journalism is fundamental to building loyalty. One running story that has brought Stat more subscribers than we imagined has been our pieces about how the Watson supercomputer wasn’t living up to the lofty expectations that IBM created for its health initiative. Not a story that people need to know for a specific business purpose, but wanted to pay for because of the larger issues it raises about new technology — and hype.

As we all look for sustainable journalism models, we’re finding a solution in our efforts to deliver quality content and build subscriber bases, and I think we’ll see that even more in 2019.

Rick Berke is the executive editor of Stat.

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Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

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Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

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Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

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Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

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Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Kevin D. Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Pia Frey   You can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

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Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

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Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

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Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

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Tushar Banerjee   Interactive ads will be the new face of display advertising

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Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

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Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

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Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

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Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

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Carrie Brown-Smith   Advocating a healthy civic life is no journalistic crime

Whitney Phillips   Our information systems aren’t broken — they’re working as intended

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Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

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Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

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Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Juleyka Lantigua   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Rebecca Lee Sanchez   We are all actors in the running rampant of political theater

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Seth C. Lewis   The gap between journalism and research is too wide

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Millie Tran   There is no magic — you’ve got this

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

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Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Jonathan Stray   More algorithmic accountability reporting, and a lot of it will be meh

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Adam B. Ellick   Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local

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Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

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Sarah Stonbely   Mapping the local news ecosystem — with scale but detail

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Kjerstin Thorson   Time to get mad about information inequality (again)

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies