The new Reuters report has landed. It arrived a few days ago, and as you’re in the industry you’re in, you’ve probably had a chance to look through it already.

This week too, many have been watching what feels like an inevitably tragic news story unfolding about the Titan submersible that went missing. Most news sites are featuring updates or live blogs of the events on their front pages.

Both Reuters and Titan have proved to be a timely reminder to highlight important things we need to reiterate about news publication and news consumption.

  1. Live blogs are an important format for ‘Update me’ stories. Even just a cursory glance on Twitter reveals people acknowledging how they’re glued to their devices, desperate for an update - of any kind.
  2. Reuters highlighted how 55% of respondents to its annual report wished that journalists would employ different approaches to reporting the news - positive news stories being the cited example. 46% said they were interested in reading about solutions, not problems.

These two things may seem like polar opposites, but that’s kind of the point.

Users have needs. For every reader refreshing their live feed in the hope of an update, there’s someone else trying to get as far away from this unraveling, seemingly inevitable tragedy as possible.

Let’s start with positive change

The Reuters Report, published this week, reports that audiences are changing how they consume the news. The focus here is important: the emphasis is on the user, not the newsroom. The question is, are newsrooms alert to these changes, and are they doing anything about them?

Because we’re seeing more and more ‘selective news avoidance’, the ‘Action’ axis of our user needs model is something worthy of more attention from newsrooms.

  • 55% of respondents said they’d prefer journalists to take a different approach to reporting the news - and were interested in positive news stories
  • 46% said they were interested in solutions journalism, not just news that highlights problems.

Update me?

Which brings us on to the other point.

For those glued to updates from the Titan, newsrooms have a clear mandate: to provide substantiated updates as quickly as possible.

But, as with any event or incident promising ‘more information soon’, there’s a fine line between publishing regularly so as to sustain engagement, and publishing for the sake of it. How many updates are valuable?

update me overproduced

Look at this graph. It’s a visualisation of the data from one of our newsrooms and it plots the number of articles within each user needs against median article reads.

That big orange line? That’s not what you want to see. It shows that the number of articles published in the ‘Update me’ user need category considerably outweighed median article reads.

Put another way? They’re producing a significant number of articles that simply aren’t getting read.

So what’s to be done? Should we abandon ‘Update me’ articles altogether?

Luckily for you, we’ve just published handy guidelines to create your own checklist for publishing ‘Update me’ articles. So before you do anything rash, we recommend you read it.


On Monday, we launched the smartocto Academy, our comprehensive online training tool to ensure you get the most out of everything smartocto has to offer - and help your newsroom connect with your users.

More info and pricing here →

Sneak peek of smartocto Academy

Shaping content: how data can inform your editorial output

Webinar 29 June 2023, 11:00 AM BST

In this live webinar, smartocto together with the PA Media team of editorial and data experts will explore how data can inform your editorial output and underpin a successful content strategy that delivers successful audience results.

We will discuss:

  • The value and impact of data in your content strategy
  • Using data to achieve results for publishers and enhance readership KPIs
  • Insight into the tools needed in a content led strategy
  • First-hand examples of how editorial teams have leveraged data findings successfully

And that’s it from us! You take care now. 

See you next month!