Commentary

'WSJ' Editors Suggest Coverage To Reach More Diverse Audiences

News Corp aims to double subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal to 5.5 million in the next few years and assigned a team of editors to devise a plan to do so. The first part of that plan, which The New York Times posted online last week, outlined the challengesof keeping subscribers and urging them to visit its website, as noted yesterday.

The remainder of the 209-page report offers suggestions on how the paper should make its online content more engaging and expand its audience. Those recommendations include covering topics that reflect the interests of women and younger readers who are more multi-ethnic than the WSJ's core readership.

WSJ management hasn't formally shared the report with its newsroom or implemented its suggestions, as the NYT notes. However, publishers should read it and think about their own growth strategies as the economy recovers from the pandemic, which triggered significant shifts in media consumption.
A key area for improvement is listening to audiences the paper has targeted for growth, and ensuring stories address their needs with specific questions they have. The WSJ recommends that news teams monitor tools like Google Trends and Google Suggestions to help identify topics that deserve greater coverage.
“When the audience doesn't come to us with insights, we need to go to them and consider having reporters go into communities we want to reach on social media," the report says. "Once there, we should listen, learn who the top influencers are and learn the language and culture of the community.”
As for coverage, the WSJ sees a need to expand beyond topics favored by heavy readers and "instead prioritize engaging with lighter-reading and new audiences." Much of the report details specific areas of coverage, such as doing fewer stories about sports, foreign carmakers, quarterly earnings -- and perhaps media and marketing. In some cases, it needs to make stories easier to find on search engines -- such as its tech coverage.
The report also sees a need to evaluate and commission stories that would interest a diverse audience.
“We should consider how different audiences, whether by gender, race, sexual orientation or age, see themselves in our coverage," the report says. "We should create or expand beats around topics that matter to diverse audiences.”
Topics that over-index to these target audiences include environment, career, consumer products, drug addiction, racism, affordability of health care, income inequality and violent crime, according to its analysis.
In presenting the news, the WSJ report sees digital platforms and content that's optimized for mobile devices as an area for improvement. Those efforts include better video engagement through search and sharpening its graphics.
“Many of our stories are missing a macro-level overview. We need to inform our audience of a story's consequences and the impact it has on the world and in our lives,” the report notes.

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1 comment about "'WSJ' Editors Suggest Coverage To Reach More Diverse Audiences".
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  1. David Scardino from TV & Film Content Development, April 14, 2021 at 10:25 a.m.

    Lots of luck. It might work if the sought after readers avert their eyes from the editorials and opinion pieces. My experience as a subscriber was that the disconnect between the factual reporting, which was excellent, and the opinion pieces became for me too large a disconnect. I was always wondering if the editorial and opinion writers were reading what the journalists were writing. Way too schizoid...!

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