As we look ahead to 2023, there are a number of trends that are likely to shape the way newsrooms create and deliver stories to their target audiences.
The emergence of new audience dimensions that affect how stories are planned, the increased focus on data-driven decisions, and the continued growth of structured content planning are just a few of the up-and-coming trends that will impact newsroom story planning in the coming years.
These changes will likely lead to newsrooms that are able to create, track, and deliver content more efficiently than ever before.
Adding New Dimensions to your Planning
Newsroom content planning has evolved from merely updating the entire audience with the latest news to taking into account multiple dimensions.
We are seeing a trend where the following meta-level dimensions are becoming increasingly important for editors when it comes to editorial planning: audiences, user needs, and also which topics interest those audiences.
These three dimensions combined are the driving force behind newsroom content planning. For example, a newsroom might identify families with children as an audience and that group might prioritize school or housing topics, but their needs might be to be updated or to be inspired by the news. Whereas an audience of young city dwellers will be interested in different topics such as culture and might have different user needs, such as to be entertained.
To address the audiences and their needs, initiatives like the BBC's user needs concept aim to take these audience needs into consideration when creating and planning their content.
Audiences expect news publishers to satisfy their needs in six ways:— Caroline Scott (@CScottVideo) December 7, 2018
1. Update me
2. Give me perspective
3. Educate me
4. Keep me on trend
5. Amuse me
6. Inspire me@dmitryshishkin says we need to address these different needs in order to reach younger audiences #GNILondon pic.twitter.com/CYmL1NLXWu
With these multiple dimensions addressed, it is now time to start putting this data into action. The next step? Structured content planning.
A More Structured Content Planning
We’re seeing a trend where content planning is no longer just focused on individual stories but is becoming a holistic approach, that aims to create a steady flow of content tailored for the right audiences, at the right time.
The key to this type of planning is having a structured content plan that gives everyone a bird’s eye view of the story, and its related tasks. We have seen customers create a content planning grid, which outlines the newsroom objectives for content at certain times of the day for a particular audience's needs and topic interests.
This content plan incorporates the many tasks that are involved in creating a story, such as a reporter submitting the copy, to the photographer submitting their photos. Having structured content plans gives newsrooms an easy overview of which tasks need to be done, and allows editors to spot gaps, and fill them quickly.
This isn’t always an easy process, but it certainly helps when content planning grids are built for this purpose. These grids help to keep track of what stories have been written and which ones still need to be tackled.
Additionally, they can be used to gauge progress and set numerical objectives that are easier to measure than qualitative ones. For example, this grid structure can assist editors in adjusting the publishing date of a story to the appropriate day and time. This is to ensure all audiences get enough coverage, not too much and not too little. It will help maximize the impact of the stories, as they will reach their target audience more effectively.
Quantifying the Process of Forward Planning
When it comes to quantifying the process of forward planning, newsrooms need to identify their objectives and track their progress in order to ensure that the coverage is balanced. This is especially important when you are dealing with writing stories on a specific theme. Say a newsroom decides they need ten stories each month on a particular topic. If by the 24th day of the month, only six out of the ten stories have been written, then it’s time to identify the gap and take action in order to catch up.
Ideally, these numerical objectives should be set before work begins on any project or when writing stories on a certain topic. That way, everyone involved will have a better understanding of how much work needs to be done and by when. This makes it easier for editors and individual reporters alike to stay focused on their tasks and also helps to make sure that stories are not missing or left behind in the process.
If it's not already clear, we’re seeing three major trends coming together in the field of newsroom content planning. These trends are:
First, there is a growing emphasis on multi-dimensional content planning in newsrooms across the world. As newsrooms become more aware of their audience, they are making the conscious decision to put audiences, their needs, and the topics that matter to them at the heart of their content-planning process.
Second, the newsroom is embracing content planning as a process of daily routine management for the organization and they are using grid structures to do this. They are focusing on scheduling, documenting, and tracking the tasks involved in creating and producing content, as well as evaluating the success of those pieces.
Third, newsrooms are using qualitative data to help them achieve their content objectives faster and better. These tools are helping newsrooms identify content gaps and opportunities and plan accordingly for them.
It is important to note that, although these trends are occurring now, they will not stop. In the coming years, newsroom leaders and managing editors will have to be even more organized and structured in their content plans, as digitalization and automation continue to take over the field of journalism.