With Thanksgiving next week, now seems like the perfect time to think about things we’re all thankful for.
And since this is a blog about the news industry, I will focus on the things I am most thankful for in the news business.
Yes, big challenges exist in our field, but there is much hope and excitement for what the future might bring. For that, I am very thankful. Here are my top five:
1. Mobile: How can’t you be thankful that we have a platform in front us that is growing like crazy? Most companies are seeing more than half of their traffic through mobile and getting there for many has been incredibly fast. It talks to the importance of writing and planning for mobile, and planting positions and developing structure in the newsroom to help achieve that. While the revenue picture for mobile has to be solved — and solved soon — knowing that we have a platform that readers are flocking to and seem to want more and more from, every day, is exciting and something to be thankful for.
2. Data: This year, GateHouse Media contracted with Parse.ly, a real-time analytics tool to provide information to newsrooms that could help them make better decisions about what to cover and how to manage our content more effectively on different platforms. Knowing what readers want and what they don’t want and reacting to those trends is awesome. Newsrooms just always assumed or made decisions off of a small audience. That’s not the case anymore. And that’s something to be thankful for.
3. Experimentation: We’re living in just this incredible moment when you can — and should be encouraged to — try new stuff all of the time. There should be no fear in failing. And then trying again. Just this week, I came across three new tools I had not seen previously that I thought we have to have three different newsrooms work on right away. A culture of experimentation — and the understanding that failure is OK — will breed great results and solutions. The fact we have these tools at our fingertips, and all it takes is a desire to try stuff, is something we should all be thankful for.
4. Digital investments: At GateHouse Media, we have made some significant investments this year in digital for our newsrooms. While we always wish more could be done, there is a lot to be thankful for. We contracted with Garcia Media to redesign all of our desktop and mobile sites, and the new design will roll out in 2016. As I mentioned above, we implemented a new analytics platform and upgraded our core analytics platform, giving all of our newsrooms more accurate data. We added tools like Scribble Live and Caspio in some newsrooms this year. And we have moved forward in many newsrooms with Tout, a better mobile video solution. We continued to fund our annual company awards and enterprise journalism programs that are teaching reporters how to produce project journalism at a high level. I always hope and want us to do more on this front and don’t kid myself to pretend that we have the right equipment and technology in every newsroom, but I I am incredibly thankful that we continue to steps in the right direction. Our company’s commitment to putting more tools in front of newsrooms, continuing to provide training and focus on improved products, like the redesign of our websites, makes me quite thankful.
5. Quality content: Almost, daily, I find myself incredibly thankful for the amazing journalism produced in our industry, but specifically in our company. This week, our largest newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch started a six-part series looking at challenges with the country’s broken mental health-care system. The Herald Tribune in Sarasota, Fla., last week, in cooperation with the Tampa Tribune reported on the troubling state of mental health facilities in Florida. And the Providence Journal recently wrapped up a several week report into race in Rhode Island. I could go on and on. You can read more examples at our Enterprise Journalism section at GateHouse Newsroom. Quality, enterprising content. Done daily. Now, that’s something to be thankful for.
It’s the season to reflect. We should all do so, about our families, friends and professions. I find it quite easy to find joy and a reason to be thankful about the opportunity in front of our industry. Challenging for sure. But there hasn’t been a greater time in our industry’s history to drive change and define our future. That time is now, and that’s definitely something to be thankful for.