PPA Blog

A New Wave of Digital Transformation

By Jess Browne-Swinburne

12 May 2021

DC Thomson Media has completely transformed its editorial and business model. It's name? The Apollo programme. It's aim? To maintain a newsroom entirely focused on audience revenue. Head of Newspapers at DC Thomson Media, Richard Neville, explained the innovation at this year's PPA Leadership Summit.

After visiting publishers across the world, they started to realise that there were publishers successfully doing what they wanted to do: a newsroom that focuses totally on audience revenue, made up of Mini Publishing Teams (MPT's) with data and insights driving content-making decisions.

MPT’s

The Apollo Programme has restructured its newsroom into 25 MPTS, each of which is a self-contained unit focusing on the whole publishing process:

  • Writing
  • Marketing
  • Distributing
  • Responsibility of output

These MPT’s are driven by data and insights, ensuring that the specialist content they are creating is meeting the needs of their specialist audience. As a result, Apollo has introduced new skills into the DC Thomson newsroom: data journalism, audience management and audience development.

How will they know it has worked?

  • Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, DC Thomson newspapers have taken on 5-6,000 subscribers.
  • Subs are growing by 200 a week, which proves they have maintained their subs base throughout this tumultuous period.

Richard Neville said: “We are just setting off on our journey and we have an incredible amount of work to still do to increase that subscriber number.”

The results so far?

  • Quality has improved in their output.
  • Training is a weekly activity.
  • They talk about what to leave out in print, rather than put in.
  • Data is part of their daily language.
  • Journalism is back at the heart of their business!

What’s next?

  • Continue to roll out plans and expand MPT team system.
  • More data to improve user experience.
  • Further engage with communities and really get under the skin of what they want.
  • Keep great and trusted journalism at the heart of the newsroom.

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