Content Strategist Jennifer Hefty at the Coloradoan did some math and figured out that the newspaper would need around 20,000 digital-only subscribers to sustain their local newsroom. Once realizing this goal, she was able to mobilize other journalists in the newsroom to help. Hefty asked reporters to state their reasoning and motivation behind their work in two or less sentences. The paper then embedded these statements alongside reporter’s photos and paired them with their stories. It resulted in the paper getting more digital subscribers than daily print subscribers for the first time ever.
The editor at the Coloradoan Eric Larsen wrote a column directly talking to readers about how the newsroom is responding to coronavirus — and how much they need their community’s support. “Like you, we’re weary from the myriad changes the last two weeks have brought. But our dedication to serve Fort Collins and our surrounding communities is steadfast. We will not waver,” Larsen wrote. “…here’s a quick look at the steps we’re taking to ensure Fort Collins and Northern Colorado stay informed and healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
In a community Facebook group run by the Coloradoan, the newsroom told users they would not be allowing posts that included speculation or misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will be removing posts that are purely speculation regarding coronavirus,” the post read. “These unconfirmed bits of information can add to public panic and hysteria. We want folks to have confirmed, reliable information. If you have a news tip or are hearing something you’d like to share, send us a private message.” By moderating comments for misinformation, it shows your audience you’re committed to accuracy and getting the facts straight.
The Coloradoan sent a newsletter to subscribers sharing their plan for how they were going to keep the community informed during the coronavirus pandemic. “This pandemic is a public health crisis the likes of which many of our journalists have never covered before,” content strategies Jennifer Hefty wrote. “We are learning as we go and trying our best to provide critical information without spreading panic.”
The Coloradoan let their audience know how vital subscriptions were by talking about their funding with their audience. “About 60% of our revenue comes from advertising. The other 40% comes from subscriptions. To sustain the future of local news in Northern Colorado, we are dependent upon support from readers, like you.”