At the Tampa Bay Times, new CEO Conan Gallaty thinks digital

This posting was originally published on Northwestern University’s Medill Regional Information Initiative internet site and is republished below with authorization.

Conan Gallaty took in excess of for the very long-serving Paul Tash as the Tampa Bay Times’ CEO in mid-January and will do well Tash as board chair of the Occasions Publishing Co. on July 1. Gallaty, who grew to become president of the Situations in 2020, will be just the fourth man or woman to direct it due to the fact Nelson Poynter’s dying in 1978.

The 46-yr-aged Gallaty joined the Times immediately after a 20-calendar year job concentrated on digital media. He graduated with a journalism diploma from the College of Ga and begun as a reporter at his hometown newspaper in Rome, Georgia, studying above time to provide audience in new approaches. Through his tenure at the Moments, he upgraded and spearheaded advancement in digital advertising and subscriptions.

Poynter owns the Moments and, as the newspaper’s business model declined, financial peril forced it to lay off staff members, impose pay cuts and furloughs, and cede its pension plan to the federal authorities. These days, the Moments is lucrative, which include on a net running foundation, Gallaty claimed.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic crushed revenues, the paper reduced printing from seven days a 7 days to only two: Wednesdays and Sundays. In 2021, the paper outsourced printing and offered its community plant. It publishes an e-edition 7 times a 7 days, additional than a dozen newsletters and its web page offers 24/7 electronic obtain.

Gallaty acknowledges that it’s extremely not likely the Occasions would resume printing extra editions, and the Times’ knowledge retains lessons for publishers transitioning unwilling readers from print to digital and expanding retention by creating its content a habit for them. Frequency of visit, he said, is his “North Star.”

Under is an edited Q&A with Gallaty.

It is been a minor extra than two a long time due to the fact the Instances minimize from 7 day by day print editions to two, amid a steep fall in advertising from the pandemic. Do you continue to look at the cutbacks momentary?

It relies upon on print advertising staying restored. The real truth is most of our means to distribute 7 days a week was created probable by substantial national advertisers. The print timetable won’t return till nationwide advertising comes again, and that is not very likely.

What about going Sunday-only in print?

The financials for us today assistance Wednesday and Sunday delivery.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg metro spot has a large amount of older residents. How are they changing?

At the start out of the pandemic, every thing was switching. There was an being familiar with that the environment was upside down. Even before the pandemic, the Situations predicted it would have to remove times of print distribution in 2024. The pandemic accelerated the development line. Some audience are upset, but the inevitability of it was produced clear to them.

Lots of legacy information businesses are making an attempt to transform print visitors to digital. What procedures have labored very best for the Situations?

One particular approach that has labored is producing the e-newspaper superb (and) liberating it from the constraints of push-restricted deadlines. We have further webpages of content in athletics and politics and a good deal of distinctive topics in our e-editions. The e-newspaper applied to be viewed as a bridge product, but it in fact has a long shelf life. Viewers appreciate a variety of added benefits: the common structure a linear, contained products with a commencing and finish a shared expertise with other readers.

Tampa Bay Occasions CEO Conan Gallaty at a assembly at Poynter in April 2022. (Photo: Chris Kozlowski/Poynter)

Has the print newspaper improved?

We’re altering our tactic to some degree where our printed product is starting to be considerably less of what happened the working day ahead of. You will uncover very minor in the Sunday paper that transpired on Saturday. The paper is a lean-back again, deep-dive study.

How are you educating visitors to cope with the alterations?

The schooling component of classic print audience is almost certainly the most complicated. We have tried using to converse around and over the comprehensive benefit this subscription presents. The Sunday paper is loaded with dwelling adverts expressing, “Read the e-newspaper.” You’ve got to exhibit them, place it in front of their nose and transform every page. When folks see the e-newspaper, nearly universally, they like it. The problem is finding them to consider it. Readers are commencing the use the e-newspaper much more on Wednesdays, even although they receive a printed copy. We believe this may well be demonstrating a escalating desire for the e-newspaper. It’s never ever late and under no circumstances soaked.

Has your electronic membership variety hit your inner ambitions?

We’re in excess of 30,000 now and increasing. We saw a slowdown this calendar year. Through the pandemic a long time, we noticed a saturation impact. We’re possessing to struggle genuinely really hard to get new subscribers.

How about retention?

Our retention price is remarkable. That is a testomony to the quality. Right before the pandemic, digital subscription retention was only 35% each year. We have enhanced it to 52%. We have decreased churn.


Concentrating on engagement. Frequency of stop by is the No. 1 indicator of whether you’ll be in a position to retain a subscriber or change a nonsubscriber. That is the North Star for us. Make that a practice. We make sure we have excellent newsletters that get to them in their inbox that are quick plenty of but complete of the correct details. Press notifications have been huge for us, but only pushing out when it definitely issues.

How do you offer with dormant accounts?

We have a scary proportion of individuals who have a electronic membership but never log in. We do a great deal of outreach. It is individualized in the feeling that we send them posts they may perhaps have desired to browse. The shock for me is the quantity of people today who are at threat but who continue to be at risk for a prolonged time. It is like the fitness center membership you have that you hardly ever go to. Individuals who subscribe to the paper believe it’s critical to them and the local community. It’s a “good for me” thing, but it also has to fit into their lives.

What has the effect been on the newsroom, which recently gained a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the potential risks of a local guide smelter?

We’re investing in our newsroom. It is the exact sizing as it was shut to the commencing of the pandemic. We want to hold the newsroom total and inevitably mature it. We have excellent expertise. We’re a writer’s newspaper, and we have folks go to countrywide publications from the Tampa Bay Periods. The journalism is what is heading to keep us heading as a business.