Conference starts with reader discussions

By Aric Chokey
Ball State University APME & ASNE Convention Team

Rethinking audiences and engaging readers were two topics that kicked off the first session of this year's joint media conference of APME and ASNE.

"The medium is not the message, the news is," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the America Press Institute. He spoke about new audience trends with emerging platforms.

Rosenstiel outlined six lessons challenging present-day news distribution models including scrapping demographic stereotypes and focusing on specific topics instead.

 "The old model for the newspaper was the general store," he said. "The web rewards specialization."

Other points included analyzing news start-ups for leadership inspiration, particularly Vox Media and The Verge.

"There's lots of new ideas and not all of them are good," he said. "Study how others have innovated.

Aside from the lessons, Rosenstiel urged news leaders to try new ventures on a small scale within their newsrooms to minimize experimental risks.

Amy Webb, CEO of Webbmedia Group, also brought some of her own digital strategy experience to the stage.


Webb addressed editors about transforming their process of structuring news stories.

"Rather than device be at the center of conversation, the consumer is," she said. "Think through developing content for people, not their devices."

Webb also said editors must take into account audience realities including timing of content, activities consumers may be engaged in, consumer behavior and reader intelligence or I.Q.

She cited Vox and Buzzfeed's strategies of using algorithms to drive traffic.

"Use data to understand your audience and engage them," she said. "Winning the Internet is not rocket science. It's data science."