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Big Noises: Neil Thackray on why content is not king

Neil spoke to Peter about the myth that content is king, the failures of publishing leadership, how media companies have lost the ability to differentiate, and how investors share some of the blame.


What better guest to kick off our special Big Noises season with than our old boss, Neil Thackray. I was a little too young to have experienced any of the big theMediaBriefing conferences where Neil unashamedly called out some of the industry’s biggest leaders on stage, but I’ve heard the stories from Peter and Chris.

If you too are weary of the same publishing platitudes being trotted out by execs and are wishing for just a bit of plain speaking, our new season is for you. Neil picks apart the myth that content is king, the failures of publishing leadership, how media companies have lost the ability to differentiate, and how investors share some of the blame.

Looking at where AgriBriefing is now as a business (and given he spoke to Peter from his retirement yacht!), he’s worth a listen.


Audience up but revenue still biggest challenge for independent news publishers

The third Index of Independent news publishers in UK by the Public Interest News Foundation finds wide reach but revenue challenges.

This is a UK-specific study but is encouraging in how audiences are evolving, even if there are some over-extrapolations from the data. Average revenue for the sector was up 19% year-on-year, but there was a large discrepancy between for-profit publishers (who saw profits decrease 14%) and non-profit publishers who saw increases of 53%.


Subscription retention strategies: pain points and remedies

Times Media, Washington Post, The Conversation and DC Thomson discuss how to hang onto paying readers. Early engagement and easy exits are key

More from the Newsrewired team at who must be very thankful for the long weekend after putting on a brilliant conference last week. Here, Times Media, WaPo, The Conversation and DC Thomson talk about how to hang on to paying readers, including the stat that improving retention by just one percent is equal to increasing subscription rates by 15%.


Axios Local slows its rapid expansion after missing revenue goals

The nationwide program—now in almost 30 markets—generated $8.6 million in 2022

After Axios Local launches in San Diego in July (its 6th new market this year and 30th overall), it won’t expand any more in 2023 and is deciding whether it will at all in 2024 after missing revenue projections. A pause in this scenario is no bad thing – the ad climate is pretty brutal at the moment and it doesn’t hurt to stop and take stock of what is working and what isn’t in the current suite of products.

More from Media Voices


PPA Festival Special: How publishers are future-proofing audience relationships

At the PPA Festival, we spent the day finding out how publishers are future-proofing audience relationships.


Buy the Media Voices team a coffee

Last month nearly finished us off, but it was so nice to be able to catch up with many of our industry friends. If you fancy kicking us a virtual coffee, it really helps keep us going.


AI in media: myths and misconceptions

Is AI a magic technology that will make all our jobs obsolete? Or will it be the silver bullet that ‘saves’ publishing? Peter Houston takes a look at some of the myths, misconceptions and exaggerations around the use of AI technology in media.

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