In early 2017, as editorial pages were coming to be the latest focus of newsroom job cuts, the Kansas City Star went the opposite direction — it expanded its editorial and column offerings.
Parent McClatchy is now pleased enough with the results to ask editorial page editor Colleen Nelson to catalyze similar changes in the chain’s 29 other newsrooms. Still leading the Star’s editorial board, Nelson now carries the added title of Opinion Editor for the entire company.
There has been much to admire in the Star opinion group’s output, including three major national awards in two years.
But there was an even more important business rationale for Nelson’s expanding portfolio: At the Star, analytics have shown that opinion pieces have become a major driver of traffic.
A big sports story is still going to get the most page views in a given month, Nelson explained in a phone interview. But as more sophisticated analytics measure which stories new subscribers read just before ordering, opinion consistently turns up among the top five.
In our conversation, Nelson highlighted five elements she pushes for successful opinion writing:
1. Do some reporting: The best editorial and opinion columns, she said, contain original reporting, as opposed to just piggybacking on reported stories by the news staff. One of the highlights of Nelson’s tenure in Kansas City was relentless digging and a long series of editorials on the mayor’s effort to award a $1 billion no-bid contract for airport improvements. Ultimately the contract was rebid
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/business-work/2019/opinion-journalism-drives-subscription-traffic-mcclatchy-finds-so-its-expanding/