Changing Media Diets

Several new initiatives are on the horizon as we hope to make the most of an otherwise awful 2020

By Kellyn Brown

The way we digest information has changed dramatically since the Beacon was first published 13 years ago. While we actually print more newspapers than we did back then, our audience’s tastes have shifted and we’re trying to shift with them.

Online, much of our readership now comes from our social media channels, the bulk of it from Facebook. That means fewer readers are determining what to read based on where we place a story on our homepage and more of them are deciding what to read based on whether one of their friends shared or commented on the story.

This, of course, is not new. But it has also further helped us gauge what the community finds newsworthy and what it doesn’t. Just about anything related to Glacier National Park — especially the status of Going-to-the-Sun Road — draws a lot of eyeballs. What’s encouraging, to the newsroom anyway, is so do many of our long-form pieces that run off the Beacon’s front page or in Flathead Living, our quarterly magazine.

Then there are those who just want their information fast. We often joke when someone posts an out-of-context comment on one of our stories posted on social media: “They obviously only read the headline.” We understand that’s part of our audience and want to tailor our content to various attention spans, even if they’re short.

So, two weeks ago we launched a rebranded newsletter, the “Daily Roundup,” which, if you sign up, we send to your inbox every afternoon Monday through Friday. It includes the top stories of the day, favorite police blotter items, data points and much more. It’s extremely easy to digest, perfect for those who only want to read the headlines — although we do provide links to the full stories and would encourage you to read those, too.

If you would rather not read news at all, we also have you covered. Every Wednesday on the Flathead Beacon Podcast, Staff Writer Andy Viano provides a rundown of the week’s news and digs deeper into some of our biggest stories. He’s interviewed school superintendents about reopening schools; Flathead County’s election administrator about conducting a secure all-mail election; and a variety of Beacon staffers about the work they’ve published. I even make an occasional cameo.

For those who, like me, enjoy reading stories on printed paper, we’re still here for you. But we want to offer an opportunity to mix up your media diet.

Five years ago, I had never listened to a podcast. Now that’s all I listen to driving to and from work. Two years ago, I didn’t subscribe to any newsletters. Now I subscribe to at least 10. Even as a longtime editor, my diet is changing as I embrace different ways to consume information.

The media landscape looks a lot different than in 2007. And as a result, we’ve continued to tinker with how we deliver relevant information to our readers. While the pandemic shut down our Kalispell offices earlier this year, it also gave us some breathing room to reflect on what we want the Beacon to look like in five years.

The results of that reflection have begun trickling out, and several new initiatives are on the horizon as we hope to make the most of an otherwise awful 2020.

Newsletter: Sign up for the Daily Roundup here.

Podcast: Listen to the Flathead Beacon Podcast here.

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