Go Out and Look for Your Readers: The Lessons of the Washington Post

 

Since The Washington Post was bought by Jeff Bezos in August 2013, the newspaper has been scoring points in the very challenging media landscape. And in October last year, it attained what would be the gold standard: it surpassed the online readership of The New York Times by one million readers, with 67 million unique visitors. How did they pull it off? By courting each reader, says Ryan Kellett, Audience and Engagement Editor of the Post. “Today, the Post’s aura of prestige is not enough,” he says in an interview with La Nación, an Argentine newspaper. A lot of people do not even know that the newspaper, which famously exposed the Watergate scandal, even exists, according to Kellett. “We have to go out and look for readers on every platform and attract them.” And, vitally, they need to pay for it, he says, as the newspaper offers them the quality that has earned it 70 Pulitzer prizes. Yet, this means that prime content is no longer as relevant as capturing an audience swarming in information. What matters, in other words, are the middlemen: the technological resources that allow media companies to reach out. Even if you have a sensational bit of news that may change the world, its importance is nil if it is missing on the social networks or online platforms on your cellphone.

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