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A Tale of Two Newsrooms: Lessons on Accurately Assessing Your Audience

March 21, 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT


Leap-of-faith approaches to sizing audience may work – occasionally. But far more often they end up like In Denver Times. It was a noble attempt to keep alive the journalistic spirit of the closed Rocky Mountain News. But for all its good intentions, the project was fraught with mistaken assumptions and unrealistic expectations about the audience – and appalling lack of understanding of business.

Before anyone says, “But they were journalists trying to do something outside their experience!” – that’s the point. Journalists ask questions, seek multiple points of view and analyze the answers before they produce something.


The goal of this webinar is to show participants that the basic skills they have as journalists can point them on a journey to better understand their audiences and their unmet needs – and by doing so they can dramatically improve the chances of success for  starting or expanding a news venture.


This session will use a series of real-time news articles about In Denver Times as a jumping off point to the basics of audience development and market sizing. In particular, the webinar will focus on:

  • Understanding the different “jobs to be done” of news consumers
  • The size of that audience in a given community of geography or community of interest
  • The “journey” of a particular user from a first-time sampler to (hopefully) a loyal, dedicated user who evangelizes about a site and maybe even gives it money.

Register here


Tom Davidson is a journalist and digital-business leader. He’s currently helping implement membership and user-data strategies for Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher. Earlier, he built a members-only streaming service for PBS that has generated $12 million in donations in its first two years; and executive-produced a PBS Digital Studios series to improve the teaching of algebra to middle-school schools.

He has been hanging around media organizations for nearly 40 years. He was a reporter and editor at newspapers (culminating as chief of correspondents, then city editor, at Tribune Co.’s Sun-Sentinel in South Florida). His career path veered dramatically after a year-long Knight Fellowship at Stanford during the late ‘90s Internet bubble. He spent the next 10 years at Tribune Interactive running content and business staffs at newspaper web sites; building and expanding new products such as Metromix.com; and finally overseeing interactive content for Tribune’s northeast websites.

Between his time at Tribune and PBS, he helped found – and shut down – GrowthSpur, a start-up that tried to assemble ad networks of local bloggers and independent sites.

Register here



March 21, 2018
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm