Hearst reduces focus on scale, cuts back on aggregation and virals

Digital scale used to be the watchword at Hearst Magazines, but it’s now joining the stampede to original reporting.

Back in January 2017, only one of the company’s top 50 stories included some research or reporting or both, said Kate Lewis, svp and editorial director of Hearst Magazines Digital Media. The vast majority of those stories were quick takes, like a compilation of Twitter responses to a news event. Top performers of this ilk included ones like these on internet reaction to a photo of a snake and to a “medium rare” chicken recipe.

But Lewis found that by December last year, 28 of Hearst’s top 50 stories had research or original reporting. That held steady, with 24 of the top 50 in February having research or reporting, according to Hearst. Recent top performers included this one on a figure skater who performed to a Beyoncé medley at the Olympics as well as an oral history of “Breaking Bad.”

“That’s a real shift in terms of how we’re distributing,” Lewis said. “Our whole organization is set up to be responsive to our readers. We saw pieces that had some unique piece of info or angle performing better, no matter where it comes from.”

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Further reading:

Recode: Hearst Magazines President David Carey talks about how the 130-year-old media giant is striking a balance between its print legacy and the digital future  (Jan 2018)