The Seattle Times is equipping its reporters to better understand and drive subscriptions. In 2017, newsroom leadership gave its content staff access to a dashboard that showed reporters which stories they published were driving subscriptions. They then shifted to creating mini-publisher teams, in which journalists were paired with digital audience, product, and business intelligence teams to study what audiences most responded to—and how they can make more of it.
In 2018, the Times’ subscriber base grew 38 percent, to 40,000.
This article explores steps the newsroom took to establish the mini-publisher teams and the experiments they’ve run. While the Times does not know what percentage of the subscriptions is due to the efforts, Danny Gawlowski, the director of digital imagery and innovation, says it’s also a reflection of a culture change within the organization: “The performance of our stories is increasing, but it’s a group effort between the newsroom and and the business side.”