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Publishing continuously: A primer

Modern news audiences expect a continuous, up-to-the-minute stream of news and information, accessible at any time, through any device, and tailored to their individual schedules and interests.

Despite that preference, many journalism organizations still adhere to old print or broadcast-era publishing schedules. Adopting a digital-first strategy doesn’t simply mean prioritizing the online product, however, or publishing more often: It also means adapting to digital rhythms. 

Navigating that shift requires publishers to first understand their audiences’ preferred consumption patterns and identify gaps. Digital analytics tools can provide insights into when and how audiences engage with news content. Importantly, while some large analyses of news traffic data have found that readers spend more time reading news in the morning or late at night, patterns may differ widely by audience, news organization, device and day of the week — and can evolve over time. 

Whatever shape local consumption takes, your news organization must reevaluate its daily schedules and editing workflows to match them. That might require adjustments to editorial meeting times, for instance, or to shift schedules, digital deadlines and daily story budgets. In some cases, embracing a continuous, digital-first mindset will require a larger reimagining of newsroom technology and culture. Does the organization maintain separate content management systems for print and digital? Are key staff, such as visual specialists, largely dedicated to print projects? Those types of issues can contribute to digital-first publishing gaps.

Such adjustments can prove challenging, particularly when they interfere with work schedules or other daily routines. Many newsroom staff are accustomed to the familiar pace and structure that print deadlines impose on their professional and personal lives. Overcoming print-era habits — and remaining competitive in the modern landscape — requires that both individual employees and teams adopt new behaviors and skills that prioritize digital engagement. Linking performance goals with new publishing schedules can help nudge staff in the right direction.