News Take Episode 101: Local News: Understanding What Readers Want and How to Deliver it to Them

Guests: Jim Bernard, Star Tribune and Mike Orren, The Dallas Morning News

Is there such a thing as a typical reader or subscriber? What role does the e-Paper play in the transition to digital (and why did our speakers initially despise the product)? Do new storytelling formats such as podcasts and social media present viable business models, and how can news publishers successfully venture into this space? What are news publishers getting right on the tech side, and where do they still need to improve?

In this episode of News Take, News Media Alliance President & CEO David Chavern sits down with Jim Bernard, Senior Vice President for Digital at the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune and Mike Orren, Chief Product Officer at The Dallas Morning News for a candid conversation about the challenges and opportunities that arise from understanding your readers and subscribers and how to give them what they want (and when, where and how they want it) – all while prioritizing revenue (because at the end of the day, newspapers need to sell subscriptions). From the differences between print and digital subscribers and their desires, preferences, and behaviors, to why the e-Edition is a valuable product, to approaches to experimenting with new forms of storytelling (including audio and video), to their most exciting plans for 2022, Orren and Bernard draw from their leadership experience to offer insights on navigating the constantly changing news consumption landscape.

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Speaker bios

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer at The Dallas Morning News, leading the teams responsible for all digital products, marketing, business intelligence, and digital audience. Prior to that, he was President at Belo Business Intelligence, where he leads marketing, analytics, product development, strategy and sales infrastructure for A.H. Belo Corporation, publisher of The Dallas Morning News. He founded Pegasus News, the largest single-market digital news pure-play in the US in 2005, eventually selling it to a publicly-traded broadcast company. Mike has served in senior roles at American Lawyer Media and D Magazine (where he launched the first city magazine website). His work has been recognized with awards from Editor & Publisher, The Dallas Press Club, the North Carolina Press Association and The Dallas Business Journal. Mike is a graduate of Duke University.

Jim Bernard is Star Tribune’s senior vice president for digital with responsibility for the company’s portfolio of digital properties and operations, including StarTribune.com – the state’s most-visited website with 7 million unique visitors each month. He also oversees dozens of other digital products, including Star Tribune mobile apps, print “replica” edition, CityPages.com and 19 Minnesota high school sports websites. Jim joined Star Tribune in 2010 from Dow Jones MarketWatch and prior to MarketWatch, he held a series of executive positions with Dow Jones. Jim earned his MBA from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Iowa.

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