Friday, May 24, 2024

Media: "The Washington Post lays out an optimistic new strategy after grim financial numbers"

From Poynter, May 23:

The Post lost $77 million over the last year, and had a 50% drop off in audience since 2020. Leaders unveiled plans to solve those issues. 

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis and other Post executives met with staff on Wednesday and laid out a strategy for the future. That’s because the recent past has been bleak for one of America’s best newspapers, at least financially.

Lewis, who was named publisher just late last year, pointed out in the meeting that the Post had lost $77 million over the past year, and had a 50% drop off in audience since 2020.

Those are stunningly large numbers.

According to Semafor’s Max Tani, Lewis told staff, “To be direct, we are in a hole, and we have been for some time.”

Axios’ Sara Fischer tweeted the Post has had a 14% decline in digital revenue and 12% total revenue decline since 2021.

However, Washington Post media reporter Jeremy Barr wrote that Lewis expressed optimism, saying “This is all repairable, all doable, particularly if we do it together.”

Do what, exactly?

Build it. That’s what the Post is calling it.

Lewis introduced an overall plan with three pillars: great journalism, happy customers and making money.

To that end, the Post will create new tiers of subscription offerings. Barr wrote, “While few details were provided about pricing and timing, the new offerings will include a membership program and new subscription tiers called Post Pro and Post Plus. While some tiers will be primarily marketed to the current base of individual subscribers, others will be focused on generating new revenue from companies.”

In his Puck newsletter, media reporter Dylan Byers added this key point: “For non-core audiences, such as younger news consumers who engage with Post content on social media, the Post will also introduce a pay-as-you-go option to access single articles or work from a specific author. This offering isn’t about netting a few quarters and dimes from passersby, of course; it’s about getting their email addresses and credit cards and putting them in the marketing funnel, with the hope that they’ll subscribe down the line.”

The subscription tiers are just part of the plan.

The Post also has plenty of other ideas in the works, including the use of artificial intelligence, a renewed emphasis on print and targeting untapped audiences with new focus. In addition, Byers wrote, “A new team helmed by Kathy Baird, the chief communications officer, will focus on marketing the talent and getting more Post journalists onto the conference circuit.”....

Going with the robo-reporters brings to mind a quote from a decade ago: 

Just get rid of the people and your costs drop significantly.