In 2019, we saw Gannett and GateHouse Media merge to become the largest newspaper chain in the U.S. We saw more news organizations take a stronger stance against the spread of misinformation and lies. We saw publishers stand up to tech giants like Facebook and Google in order to save digital advertising revenue. We saw political journalism grow in newsrooms around the country as they prepared for a combative election year.
If that's what last year brought us, what will 2020 bring?
In order to look ahead, we must reflect, which is what these five news leaders did for us. Despite facing challenges, their newsrooms are experimenting with new revenue sources, pursuing new audiences, and fueling their newsrooms with energy and foresight.
What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Jay Allred, We had not yet launched a membership program that was effective and aligned with our values but doing so was going to be a tremendous lift for a small staff. A key to doing it was to create a cross-departmental team that brought everyone to the table and made membership everyone's job.
Brian Jarvis: Revenue challenges have been a big problem related to pre-print and national advertising. We are still determining how to overcome it. That was high margin stuff and it is tough to replace.
Lance Knobel: A sustainable business model for local news remains a struggle for everyone in the field. Berkeleyside celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019, which puts us among the oldest of the local news digital startups. We decided that after 10 years as a for-profit we should convert to nonprofit status as the best way to sustain our mission.
Judi Terzotis: This year we purchased the assets of the Times-Picayune and NO LA. com from Advance. The biggest challenge was integrating the business in a very short window of two months. In most acquisitions of this magnitude, the transition time is six to eight months. Our team worked tirelessly to do the impossible. Our transitional plan was well thought out and nicely executed. The team from Advance were invested in our success and critical to our successful transition.
Emily Walsh: Recruitment and churn--both on the editorial and sales side. Talent is harder and harder to find. When journalists are laid off from other news organizations, or looking for more work-life balance, we find they are leaving the industry. In addition, not only are Google and Facebook eating our advertising dollars, but now they are hiring our journalists, too. So are brands, in their need to create content to drive traffic to their...