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Breaking All the Rules: Why Being Reader-First in Digital Publishing is a Game Changer for Editors and Reporters

For years, journalists, writers, and editors have lived by a certain set of rules. When all of their work was published in print form in a newspaper, magazine, guide or book, these rules made sense. But those rules have shifted over the last five to ten years and now editors, reporters and writers need to know the new rules for success in the digital publishing industry.

The old rules focused on: how to create, inform, judge sources, and then publish. Learning how to write basically meant the writer’s job was done after their article was submitted to the editor. Although no one will ever know your writing better than you, reporting as we know it today is now more than just writing and publishing. It’s a cycle that has shifted and expanded to include the reader as part of the process.The new publishing cycle

Want to visualize that cycle? Picture you reader at the center of everything you do.

The new “rules” of writing focus on helping you understand your audience by finding ways to learn who they are, what makes them read your work and how you can create with them in mind. We call this being “reader-first”.

Today’s digital platforms include the audience as more than a receiver, they’re actively participating in the process. After your article is published, instant feedback can be given via your reader in the comment section. Sharing your article with the world on social media shows something about your story and how they relate to it. Your current readers have conversations with other potential readers other places online. Including the audience in your thoughts with a reader-first approach to writing will help you take advantage of all of these interactions.

It shouldn’t be a daunting task to create these relationships. We’ve created a 19-page guide to help explain the importance of being reader-first and walk writers through exercises that will show anyone with an online audience how to better understand their readers.

Our guide includes questions to ask yourself and your team to move toward a more reader-first model of publishing. In addition, we’ve included helpful infographics, quotes from well-known media industry experts, and our thoughts on the future of reader-first publishing, backed up by our work with hundreds of major publishing websites.

In the Guide:

  • What “Reader-First” Means for a Digital Reporter or Editor
  • 3 Common Misconceptions About Analytics
  • 5 Exercises For Understanding Any Website’s Readers Better
  • An Innovation Experiment Framework


Download our free guide to learn how to participate with your audience in the digital conversation.