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

This article was initially revealed on Northwestern University’s Medill Nearby Information Initiative web page and is republished in this article with authorization.

Conan Gallaty took above for the lengthy-serving Paul Tash as the Tampa Bay Times’ CEO in mid-January and will thrive Tash as board chair of the Periods Publishing Co. on July 1. Gallaty, who grew to become president of the Instances in 2020, will be just the fourth individual to guide it since Nelson Poynter’s loss of life in 1978.

The 46-calendar year-old Gallaty joined the Situations following a 20-calendar year occupation concentrated on digital media. He graduated with a journalism diploma from the University of Ga and commenced as a reporter at his hometown newspaper in Rome, Ga, finding out in excess of time to provide visitors in new approaches. In the course of his tenure at the Moments, he upgraded and spearheaded expansion in electronic advertising and subscriptions.

Poynter owns the Moments and, as the newspaper’s business model declined, money peril forced it to lay off workers, impose fork out cuts and furloughs, and cede its pension prepare to the federal govt. Now, the Situations is financially rewarding, which include on a web functioning foundation, Gallaty explained.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic crushed revenues, the paper minimized printing from 7 times a 7 days to only two: Wednesdays and Sundays. In 2021, the paper outsourced printing and marketed its area plant. It publishes an e-edition seven times a 7 days, much more than a dozen newsletters and its web-site offers 24/7 electronic access.

Gallaty acknowledges that it is really unlikely the Moments would resume printing more editions, and the Times’ encounter holds classes for publishers transitioning reluctant readers from print to digital and expanding retention by building its articles a routine for them. Frequency of visit, he said, is his “North Star.”

Below is an edited Q&A with Gallaty.

It is been a very little more than two many years given that the Times slash from seven each day print editions to two, amid a steep fall in advertising from the pandemic. Do you still take into account the cutbacks temporary?

It depends on print advertising getting restored. The reality is most of our capability to distribute 7 days a week was produced probable by large nationwide advertisers. The print plan will not return until nationwide advertising comes back, and that is not most likely.

What about going Sunday-only in print?

The financials for us currently assistance Wednesday and Sunday shipping and delivery.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg metro region has a good deal of older people. How are they altering?

At the commence of the pandemic, anything was modifying. There was an comprehension that the earth was upside down. Even right before the pandemic, the Instances predicted it would have to reduce times of print distribution in 2024. The pandemic accelerated the development line. Some readers are unhappy, but the inevitability of it was designed apparent to them.

Quite a few legacy information organizations are attempting to transform print viewers to digital. What strategies have labored best for the Situations?

1 approach that has worked is making the e-newspaper superb (and) releasing it from the constraints of press-limited deadlines. We have supplemental internet pages of written content in sporting activities and politics and a great deal of different matters in our e-editions. The e-newspaper made use of to be thought of a bridge merchandise, but it in fact has a very long shelf lifetime. Audience appreciate a selection of positive aspects: the acquainted format a linear, contained product with a beginning and finish a shared working experience with other audience.

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

Has the print newspaper changed?

We’re shifting our approach fairly the place our printed products is turning out to be less of what transpired the day ahead of. You are going to find very small in the Sunday paper that took place on Saturday. The paper is a lean-back again, deep-dive read.

How are you educating viewers to cope with the alterations?

The training section of standard print readers is in all probability the most difficult. We have experimented with to communicate more than and more than the complete price this membership presents. The Sunday paper is loaded with dwelling ads saying, “Read the e-newspaper.” You’ve bought to clearly show them, place it in entrance of their nose and switch every web page. When people see the e-newspaper, almost universally, they like it. The challenge is obtaining them to try out it. Readers are starting the use the e-newspaper much more on Wednesdays, even however they receive a printed copy. We feel this could be displaying a growing choice for the e-newspaper. It is under no circumstances late and by no means moist.

Has your digital membership variety hit your internal aims?

We’re around 30,000 now and escalating. We noticed a slowdown this year. During the pandemic decades, we saw a saturation outcome. We’re owning to struggle actually challenging to get new subscribers.

How about retention?

Our retention charge is remarkable. Which is a testament to the excellent. In advance of the pandemic, digital subscription retention was only 35% every year. We’ve enhanced it to 52%. We’ve decreased churn.


Concentrating on engagement. Frequency of stop by is the No. 1 indicator of whether you’ll be in a position to keep a subscriber or convert a nonsubscriber. That is the North Star for us. Make that a routine. We make guaranteed we have great newsletters that attain them in their inbox that are brief enough but total of the proper information and facts. Push notifications have been big for us, but only pushing out when it really matters.

How do you offer with dormant accounts?

We have a frightening proportion of persons who have a electronic membership but really don’t log in. We do a great deal of outreach. It is individualized in the feeling that we mail them posts they may perhaps have desired to read. The surprise for me is the quantity of people who are at hazard but who remain at possibility for a very long time. It is like the health club membership you have that you by no means go to. Folks who subscribe to the paper consider it is important to them and the local community. It is a “good for me” matter, but it also has to suit into their life.

What has the effect been on the newsroom, which a short while ago received a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the hazards of a nearby lead smelter?

We’re investing in our newsroom. It is the very same sizing as it was shut to the beginning of the pandemic. We want to maintain the newsroom complete and at some point expand it. We have a
mazing talent. We’re a writer’s newspaper, and we have persons go to national publications from the Tampa Bay Moments. The journalism is what is likely to maintain us likely as a business.

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