Washington Post to Expand Health, Climate Coverage in Bid for More Readers

From a Wall Street Journal story by Alexandra Bruell headlined “Washington Post to Expand Health, Climate Coverage in Bid for More Readers”:

The Washington Post said it plans to significantly expand coverage in areas such as health and wellness, climate and technology, part of a strategy to reach younger readers and grow its digital audience.

The plans, which come after extensive internal research, call for the addition of more than 70 positions in the Post’s newsroom this year, Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said.

The Post’s audience surged in 2020, lifted by interest in politics, but declined sharply following the election. The Post’s audience research led top editors to conclude the outlet needed more coverage beyond politics to cater to readers, who are showing they want to read about other topics….

“So many of our top articles are really outside the Post’s traditional core of politics and to me this is really an opportunity to double down on that,” Ms. Buzbee said. “We really wanted to place some smart bets on some areas or pillars of coverage that would take the Post to the next level of drawing an audience and drawing readers.”

The Post had 72 million monthly unique visitors in December, according to comScore data provided by the publisher, a 23% decline from the previous year’s mark of 93 million. Many other publishers have suffered traffic declines. A spokeswoman for the Post, which is owned by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, declined to comment on the company’s audience goals.

Coverage areas like health and wellness will be geared toward consumers, and much of the new reporting will be explanatory, Ms. Buzbee said. For example, rather than only covering policy and regulatory issues related to climate change, the Post could provide coverage helping consumers to learn how they can make a difference in their communities and live a mindful life, she said.

The Post is planning to add nearly 20 roles focused on health and wellness, with coverage spanning nutrition, mindfulness, sleep and medical advice from health professionals.

Politics remains a core focus for the Post. The company is adding eight new positions focused on U.S. political and social issues, according to Ms. Buzbee’s memo.

“Many of the struggles and conflicts now emerging are happening outside of Washington, and to most impactfully cover these stories, we must continue to invest in strong reporting across the U.S.,” she wrote.

Beyond the newsroom, the company is also planning to add over 100 people in areas such as engineering, marketing, events, and research and analytics….

The Post’s audience research found that traffic from nonsubscribers had fallen off 35% over two years and traffic from subscribers wasn’t growing fast enough to make up the difference….

Top stories on the Post’s site have reflected how readers’ interest in political stories has fallen off. During one period in 2019, the company found that nearly all of the 50 most popular articles on the Post’s home page were related to politics, whereas in the same period of 2021, just three of the top 10 were related to politics….

Other publishers have carried out internal studies as they focus on expanding their digital businesses. Executives at the Wall Street Journal had discussed a plan in 2020 to double its audience by the end of fiscal 2024….The company has said it plans to double its membership business over the long term, but has not commented on goals for monthly readership. New York Times Co., which recently acquired sports-media company The Athletic, recently set a target of at least 15 million total subscribers by year-end 2027.


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