Sara Fischer: Crafting Informative Newsletters and Media Coverage

From a post of Media Voices headlined “Axios’ media reporter Sara Fischer on crafting informative newsletters and media coverage”:

Launching Axios Media Trends

We did have a formula that we wanted to follow, which mimicked some of the other newsletters that we had already launched. We had launched three others before mine; a health, a tech, and a general newsletter in the morning. And so we kind of got to see what worked and what didn’t work.

We figured if we follow a similar playbook; keep the work short but not shallow, leverage smart data visualisations, and really focus on the intersection of business technology and politics to talk about media, we thought it would be successful.

Evolving the newsletter

When I first started publishing [Axios Media Trends], we were around 2,000 words. And now we’re really aiming to be closer to 1,500 words a week. It doesn’t mean I publish less items, it means I publish shorter excerpts of stories that are published to the website and link out.

What’s helpful is that it provides people who are interested in a particular item or subject to link out and go deeper. But it also gives them enough exposure to it so that they can learn about it, even if it wasn’t something that they thought they really cared about.

So that’s always been the strategy, is give people enough content to give them exposure to things that we think should be on their radar, but give them the option to go deeper or not go deeper. . . .

Writing for a wide media audience

When I was the business side and I sold advertising, I felt as though a lot of the coverage did not cater to me, which is your average everyday aspirational employee in media and advertising. It was either too catered to the power players…or it was too niche. I was looking for something that was authoritative, not over my head, not to insider-y, but at the same time, not too technical.

So I’m thinking about anyone that does media for their job, that is time constrained, but doesn’t want to be spoken down to, doesn’t want to be spoken over, just wants to be spoken very plainly to in order for them to do their job better. . . .

Lessons from covering media companies

Culture matters a lot. And I’m seeing a lot of media companies that hit bumps in the road, it’s because they didn’t have a culture or a set of processes or priorities that helps to guide them through tough decisions. And that’s hugely, hugely important.

We never had a focus on diversity as an industry and news media. And part of that is because the industry started out largely focused around a few newspapers and magazines, particularly in the northeast, where the people who participated in those ventures were predominantly white. They came from northeastern states which tended to be liberal. And that lack of diversity continues to be a huge problem, not only navigating coverage and selecting the right stories and elevating the right sources and voices, but also just in how to function as an industry in a country that’s so diverse.

It got to a point – we’re still at this point – where news media, as a whole is so much less diverse in the workforce of the United States. I mean, how can you possibly be an innovative company or industry when that’s your reality?

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