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Content strategy sweet spot needs to hit 4 key pillars – NewsDay

Happily, digital technology also provides the tools, data and other information needed to inform newsrooms and help incorporate audience desires into content strategies. Sometimes, this information shows our instincts are wrong.

THE days when news editors relied solely on seat-of-the-pants instincts when choosing what topics and stories to publish are long gone.

That worked in a take-it-or-leave-it, pre-digital media world; the game has changed. More knowledge, more insight and more regard for what the audience need and want is necessary.

Happily, digital technology also provides the tools, data and other information needed to inform newsrooms and help incorporate audience desires into content strategies. Sometimes, this information shows our instincts are wrong.

But data alone is not the answer: Traditional journalistic values must still figure into decisions about content. In addition, it is essential to understand what readers and users want, their desires and ambitions, and, perhaps most importantly, what they are willing to pay for.

Where journalistic mission, audience knowledge and empathy, usage analytics and financial impact meet, you have a “sweet spot” for any content strategy. Stories hit the sweet spot when they fulfil the organisation’s mission, score well with the analytics, satisfy a deep audience information need and get people to pay for more.

But it takes some work to find them.

Market insight

When we talk about market insight, we are not talking about asking audiences what they want. Often, they do not know. Or, they will tell you what they think you want to hear or what provides prestige and hide what actually attracts them.

Market insight means understanding how people think, what they feel, what fears they have, what drives them and what motivates them. With these customer insights, you can deduce what kind of content responds to their needs much more accurately than asking them to rate your stories. For example, if you discover that a significant part of your audience values information about personal health or they are very career driven, then you can offer more stories about these topics.

But field research is often not the best way to determine what, specifically, they want in terms of health and career. You could find out through focus groups, but this is time-consuming, expensive and only considers the views of a small number of people. There is then the need to experiment and test, especially if you move into topics which are not a big part of your current offerings.

This is where digital kicks in.


Usage and user behaviour data and analytics have value. This “post-mortem” data, gathered after the story appears, tells you what people looked at, how much they consumed and for how long.

This knowledge can inform your decisions on other stories to publish. This not only tells you which content is popular, but also what you can leave out — the stories that have little or no traffic, have very short reading times, don’t convert, or are not read by many subscribers.

But you cannot rely on this alone: There is always the possibility that you have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you offer more of something and place it prominently on the site or in the app, people will consume more simply because it is there. One example is the so-called and often demonised listicles. Listicles are easy-to-read, offer added value and, therefore, popular. But a dangerous reflex would be to overdo it.

Journalistic mission

The third dimension, never to be forgotten or diminished, is your mission and how you define your brand. You do not only provide what you think your audience wants (or needs),  but also what you are convinced is important. These are not only the things that are driven by data or audience research.

Your audience may not necessarily seek them out, so it is important to put it right in front of them, even on page 1, when you are convinced this is very important.

An example: A very popular regional newspaper in Europe once published an eight-page special about a “high-brow” book author of that country. It was quite niche and not really appealing to a majority of the readers, but the editor-in-chief decided it was important for the brand to get it in front of their readers.

These types of stories can surprise people and widen their horizons … if they decide to engage. This is, of course, old school judgment of the newsroom team. This knowledge and experience is a core capability of any good editorial operation.

Paid content potential

The fourth area and in the midst of digital transformation very important, is content that could have a financial impact. That is, stories generating new audiences or engaging existing audiences, who are willing to pay for the privilege of accessing them. Or, stories generating sufficient reach to pay into the digital advertising bucket as well as fill the audience acquisition funnel.

Ideally, these stories emerge from those that satisfy the other three criteria: Stories based on customer insight and journalistic value and that are confirmed as relevant by data and analytics. If that happens, the sweet spot is met.

To find this sweet spot is the goal, but it is not realistic to think every piece of content will fit into it.

Both art and science are involved. You might have stories that are important for the journalistic mission and receive a lot of traffic, but your audience insight would not have predicted or supported it. Or, you might have popular stories that don’t support the journalistic mission.

These are the typical “click-bait” stories. You have to be careful with these, as stories that do not fit the mission (and can be found elsewhere) can dilute your value proposition.

It is not easy to find the sweet spot. But overall, it is always important to seek stories that fulfil those four criteria, or at least two of them. The bigger the overlap, obviously, the better. Thinking about content in this way is likely to produce content that is desired, generates traffic and subscriptions and satisfies readers as well as fulfilling the traditional role of serving your community.

Dietmar Schantin is a digital media strategist and has helped to transform the editorial and commercial operations of media brands around the world.

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Zimbabwe sees economic growth falling in 2024 due to drought –

HARARE (Reuters) -Zimbabwe’s economic growth is expected to fall to 3.5% in 2024 from 5.5% this year, mainly due to an anticipated drought caused by El Nino, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said on Thursday.

El Nino, a natural climate phenomenon in which surface waters of the central and eastern Pacific become unusually warm, causing changes in global weather patterns, is expected to hit crop yields during the 2023/24 farming season.

Declining mineral commodities prices will also weigh on growth, Ncube said in a speech.

Zimbabwe’s budget deficit is expected to end the year at 1.2% of GDP, he said, while annual inflation is seen falling to 10%-20% in 2024 from 20% in 2023.

“Going into 2024… fiscal restraint and tight monetary policy, together with a healthy current account position, provide the necessary conditions for currency and price stability,” Ncube said.

To enhance revenue collection he proposed increasing toll fees for the country’s busiest road, adding a levy on sugary drinks and introducing a wealth tax.

He also said lithium miners should submit refinery plans by March 2024 to encourage value addition. Zimbabwe is the leading lithium producer in Africa.

(Reporting by Nyasha Chingono; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Alexander Winning and Christina Fincher)

By Nyasha Chingono

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Uganda secures qualification for T20 World Cup, Zimbabwe miss out – (Cricket News)

WINDHOEK, Namibia (AP) — Uganda secured its place in a global cricket tournament for the first time Thursday after beating Rwanda in African qualifying for next year’s T20 World Cup.

The country of 50 million in East Africa got into the expanded 20-team competition, being co-hosted by the West Indies and the United States in June, at the expense of Zimbabwe — an established cricketing nation.

Uganda defeated Zimbabwe by five wickets on Sunday for its first ever win over a Full Member team in a T20 international, and followed that up by dismissing Rwanda for 65 then reaching its target in 8.1 overs in Windhoek, Namibia.

Namibia has also advanced through African qualifying to complete a lineup of teams that also contains Oman, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Canada. The United States qualifies through being a host country.

Uganda has been an associate member of the ICC since 1998 but does not have test or ODI status.

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Container lines expect greater Panama Canal disruption – Seatrade Maritime News

As previously reported on Seatrade Maritime News the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced further restrictions to vessels starting with only 22 transits from 1 December and declining to 20 ships on 1 January and just 18 ships from 1 February until further notice, as the water levels decline.

Consultancy Alphaliner reported: “Since Q2 [2023], the maximum draught for ships transiting the Panama Canal has been lowered from 14.94m to 13.41m, which reduces the carrying capacity of neo-panamax ships by up to 1,500 teu.”

ZIM is one of the major carriers affected by the canal’s draught restrictions which the company’s EVP and CFO Xavier Destriau said had become an area of “focus and attention” that was preventing the carrier from meeting its schedules and providing its customers with the reliability that they demand.

ZIM believes that one positive effect of the draught restrictions will be the absorption of excess capacity that is currently flooding the market, but Destriau admitted that the carrier has not seen enough of a slowdown in service rotations to shift the dial on the excess capacity being delivered into the global container shipping industry.

“Today it hasn’t changed the needle too much [on excess capacity] and what is more worrisome for our customers is the lack of visibility and schedule reliability that is quite seriously impacted by the current situation,” said.

ZIM is looking into what it can do to protect its schedule reliability, it has already added two vessels to Asia to US East Coast loop, taking the number of ships in this service from 10 ships to 12, absorbing some capacity.

“We are continuing to explore alternatives to protect schedules,” admitted Destriau as the situation around the Panama Canal appears to develop into more serious delays.

Southeast Asia to Baltimore service will have new larger vessels, but so far the carrier has resisted deploying further vessels to meet the draught restrictions and to maintain schedule reliability.

Listen to a recent episode of the Seatrade Maritime Podcast with Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vasquez Morales

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ZIM has so far resisted adding Panama Canal surcharges, however, some of its competitors have decided to cover the extra costs through a levy.

CMA CGM will impose a $150 per teu ‘Panama Adjustment Factor’ (PAF) from 1 January 2024, citing the impact of both the transit restrictions and higher Canal tariffs implemented in January. And MSC has announced a PAF of $297 per teu for its Asia-US East Coast/US Gulf and Asia/Caribbean services transiting the Canal, effective from 15 December, said Alphaliner.

Measures taken to preserve the draught levels, such as the use of water saving basins in the and cross-filling in the panamax locks, levels in the Gatun Lake are said to be “at unprecedented levels for the time of year”.

Unlike bulk carriers and tankers, which have been looking for alternatives to the canal, liner companies have not seen major disruptions in the number of container vessels transiting the Panama Canal, at least up until now.

Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen told Alphaliner that the carrier is closely monitoring the situation to see if one or more loops should be re-routed via the Suez Canal.

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