Liz Worthington, Director of Content Strategy at American Press Institute (API), manages a group of three – Success Engineer Lindsay Carbonell, Partner Development Manager Katie Kutsko, and Audience Engagement Strategist Shirley Qiu – who together help publishers create data-driven content strategies through API’s platform, Metrics for News.
What brought you to the news media industry and API?
I knew I wanted to be a journalist since I was in high school. I went to the University of Missouri to get my bachelor’s degree, and after I graduated, I started working for small local newsrooms in Virginia and South Carolina covering crime, government, health and environment. In 2008, when my newsroom and others were facing layoffs, I decided to expand my knowledge of digital journalism. I found Patch.com and started working there as a reporter/editor with various roles in management and training. I learned a lot about digital journalism, analytics and training, which were the skills that API needed when it was starting Metrics for News. There was something really appealing to me about building something from scratch.
What is Metrics for News and how is it different from other analytics platforms?
Metrics for News is software we created in 2014 when publishers started asking us how their editors could make more empirical decisions about what to cover and how. At first, we looked to their Google Analytics, but that wasn’t enough. It didn’t answer the key questions publishers ask themselves all the time, such as which beats drive engagement, how a given author can improve or how to attract more subscribers. So, we decided to create Metrics for News to help publishers better understand their audience and deepen their engagement, grow their subscribers, write better stories, etc.
Our platform is different from any other metrics app; it is a content strategy tool where publishers can analyze hundreds and thousands of stories over time to learn the qualities that drive engagement, as well as identify new trends that could benefit audience and subscriber growth.
In 2018, we went through a massive redesign. We talked to newsrooms to get their feedback and decided to change our original platform to something more user friendly that would help anyone in a newsroom, and not only the people who were already familiar with analytics. We wanted Metrics for News to better assist newsrooms as a whole, including reporters working to grow their skills in audience development and analytics.
What are you working on to help Metrics for News’ members?
I think the biggest project that I keep working on is helping publishers better understand their audiences and their needs through analytics. I’m working with API to make sure publishers are getting answers to the key questions and information they need. Day-to-day, our team is talking to newsrooms, training them on how to use this strategic data, and continuing to evolve our product to better support our partner newsrooms and the communities they serve.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the news media industry in 2019?
There are lots of challenges: the audience’s perspective about misinformation and disinformation is one of the biggest issues. We have folks at API who work on that challenge specifically. Another issue is the path to sustainability for local newsrooms. Our efforts in Metrics for News are one way to support newsrooms trying to better identify what drives people to subscribe as they move away from advertising models alone and toward ones heavily supported by reader revenue.
What is the most promising opportunity for news publishers in 2019?
I think it’s still an exciting time to be a journalist. I think one of the biggest opportunities for publishers this year is to keep getting better at understanding and listening to their audiences to learn how what they are producing is helping their audiences live their lives, connect them to their communities and satisfy their needs.
What are you most excited about in your role at API for the rest of this year?
I’m excited to keep working here. The people at API are all very smart and passionate about journalism, which makes it fun. I am also excited to keep improving the future of Metrics for News and spreading it across more newsrooms to help them improve their business.