With an aggressive goal to reach profitability over three years, the publisher chose to build an efficient digital-first workflow, leveraging the best technologies to reduce back-office work for the editorial team.
This choice proved to be successful: a small team was able to kickstart the publication and achieve a rapid growth of digital and print subscribers. This article tells the story behind this successful launch.
The last eighteen months proved to be challenging for newspapers: pandemic restrictions accelerated the change in consumer reading habits, with a quick shift toward digital news. Advertising revenue declined in favour of the quintopoly; five tech companies now earn almost half of the total ad revenue in the entire world. Newsrooms had to quickly change their workflow, accelerating their digital transformation processes and optimising print production to increase efficiency.
In this scenario, Carlo De Benedetti – former owner of the most popular daily newspaper in Italy – decided there was room in the market for a new liberal newspaper.
De Benedetti and the start-up team strongly believe in high quality journalism supported by paying subscribers. So, the new paper was founded early summer 2020 to fulfil the need of a liberal newspaper with a strong identity.
The goal was to provide high quality journalism at a time when the Italian audience was ready to pay for news. Starting from scratch and with no legacy of an existing newsroom structure, the team was able to design the workflow in the most efficient way.
How to build an optimised workflow
At Domani, stories are born digital. For this reason, the team chose a browser-based CMS, to edit content both for print and for digital. Based on that, the team implemented a digital-first workflow on a multichannel publishing system. Journalists, editors and external contributors all work on the same system removing the harmful email flow in and out the newsroom. This way, editors can immediately access the latest version of each piece of content in the CMS, prepare it for digital publication, decide whether it will be premium or free, and push it live at the scheduled time.
Stories are then subbed for print by the same editor. A print version of the story is automatically created, and the content is placed in the best print design, selected from a gallery of available templates. The editorial workflow is entirely managed in a browser window, allowing the team to work from anywhere and from any device.
Team efficiency results in a quick growth
Launching a new publication from scratch had its challenges: the newspaper was expected to sustain itself mainly via digital subscriptions, with a goal to break-even in three years. In addition, lockdown restrictions brought a completely new working environment, with the need to manage the publishing process from remote locations. And finally, the entire workflow needed to be managed by a single team, working both on digital and print.
So, together with the technology for the publishing workflow, the team structure represented the most important decision when setting up the new organisation. By leveraging pre-defined page designs and a unified publishing workflow, Domani was able to set up a winning team, structured as follows:
- 25 staff editors and reporters
- 1 data journalist
- 3 artists
- 1 proof-reader across all channels
- No page designers
- More than 600 freelancers, including famous writers, intellectuals, scientists, economists, actors.
Thanks to the team structure and to an efficient publishing system, the printed newspaper and digital subscription were live within three months of the project start. Six months after launch the results achieved by Domani were also impressive:
- 70% target of 2021 subscriptions already achieved by mid Q2
- 26% of readers aged between 18 and 26
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