2
0
1
9

Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

“These are hard-won subscribers. Ensuring that they remain so loyal, so engaged and so connected to the journalism and mission that they stick around can’t be done by sales and marketing alone.”

By now, most journalists at subscription-driven organizations know about the funnel. The famous digital sales funnel, which classifies potential subscribers in tranches, starting at the top with infrequent visitors and narrowing to a final group of those highly engaged. Ideally, those highly engaged users will pop out of the graphic and into revenue streams, converted into paying subscribers.

But in 2019, newsrooms will focus on understanding the next step of the reader journey: coming back for more. Doubling down on best practices for subscriber retention after acquisition (and updating the graphical representations of such) will be a key priority.

These are hard-won subscribers. Ensuring that they remain so loyal, so engaged and so connected to the journalism and mission that they stick around can’t be done by sales and marketing alone. Yes, of course those teams will continue to invest in strategies and tools that promote engagement and reduce churn, but journalists can and will help by improving editorial products, gaining greater audience insight and, most important, producing quality journalism.

A lot of that work will happen in your inbox. Newsletters are a proven retention tool in all industries, and they’ll continue their resurgence in ours. The intimacy, convenience and reliability of email are attractive to readers, especially during a time of growing suspicion of social media.

Next year we’ll hear about investments in editorial, tech and product resources for newsletters, benefiting those who create them and consume them. We’ll see stronger collaboration with product and tech colleagues, and a rise of those in hybrid roles. We’ll see the development of more engagement features, emphasizing interactivity, visual elements and real-time updates in email templates. And we’ll see more experimentation with paid newsletters or subscriber-only products.

The targeting of these newsletters will also be refined. Large blasts of email of little or minimal interest, with low open rates as proof of their middling success, will be joined (or ideally replaced) by more segmented, personalized and therefore more valuable newsletters.

All of this will lead to keener insight into audiences. With this data, coupled with constant user research, both qualitative and quantitative, news organizations will be able to better understand what subscribers want, and where, when and how they want to read, view or consume our journalism. (This will also help with the identification of new audiences, but hey, we are talking about retention here.)

Of course, these insights and advancements won’t be restricted to email. We’ll see improved personalization on the desktop and in apps, with smarter applications of recirculation modules and push notifications.

And none of that work will matter without timely and invaluable news, analysis and information from trusted journalists. Subscribers want relationships with reporters, with our brands. Like any good relationship, we need to ensure they find enough value to remain with it.

Elisabeth Goodridge is editorial director of newsletters at The New York Times.

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

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Local news isn’t where you thought it was

J. Siguru Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

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

Amy King   We should listen to the kids (especially on Instagram)

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Stephanie Edgerly   It’s time to understand the un-audience

Frank Mungeam   Tonight at 11: News, sports, and climate change

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Manoush Zomorodi   Tech will do for information overload what it did for mindfulness

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

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

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

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

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Cristi Hegranes   A year to invest in the security of local journalists

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Alexandra Borchardt   Newsrooms need to build trust with their journalists, not just the audience

Mike Rispoli and Craig Aaron   Government funds local news — and that’s a good thing

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Zainab Khan   Publishers whose products can stand up to social media giants will win

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Cindy Royal   For journalism curriculum to change, its faculty needs disruption

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Raney Aronson-Rath   We learn “digital” doesn’t have to mean “short”

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Efrat Nechushtai   Journalism wants to be your friend, not your teacher

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Mike Isaac   The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

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

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Frank Chimero   Leave the phone at home and put news on your wrist

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Matt Karolian   Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

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

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   A more sincere definition of “community”

Glyn Mottershead and Martin Chorley   When a tech company pulls the plug on your story

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Claire Wardle   Forget deepfakes: Misinformation is showing up in our most personal online spaces

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Juleyka Lantigua   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

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

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

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

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Elisabeth Goodridge   Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Angilee Shah   The year news orgs say “yes” to real leaders

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Alyssa Zeisler   We expand what (and how and who) we serve

An Xiao Mina   The death of consensus, not the death of truth

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

Matt Waite   “I went to Node.js because I wished to live deliberately”

Tshepo Tshabalala   Ahead of African elections, unlock partnerships with fact-checkers

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Joshua P. Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Jenée Desmond-Harris   It finally sinks in that some people aren’t white

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Steve Myers   From trying to cover it all to covering what matters

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Jennifer Dargan   You don’t build diversity through one-off training sessions

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Tyler Fisher   This is journalism’s do-or-die moment

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Heather Chaplin   Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

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

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

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

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Jesse Holcomb   We’ll get better at making the case for local journalism

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

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

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Axie Navas   The traffic hunt, CMS battle, and magazine identity crises loom

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Umbreen Bhatti   The story doesn’t end for the people we quote

Simon Galperin   After capitalism’s fire, journalism’s secondary succession

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

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Hossein Derakhshan   The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not

Hearken   Pivot to people

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio