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News outlet gives younger readers a voice

News daily Público streamlines their user content submission platform, enabling readers to submit more stories while making editors’ lives easier.

Committed to attracting younger audiences

Headquartered in Lisbon, Público is a Portuguese national daily newspaper with journalists based in Portugal, Brussels, and the U.S. Their audience has traditionally comprised an older demographic, with 47 percent of readers between 35 and 54 years old and 35 percent aged 55 and over.

“We had trouble reaching younger audiences,” Executive Editor Patrícia Jesus says, noting that only 11 percent of readers are ages 25 to 34, with 7 percent younger than age 24. “Why are younger people not reading the news? This is our problem, not theirs. So what could we do about this?”

In 2011, Público collaborated with local universities to launch P3 – a news site appealing to millennials and Gen Z. P3 speaks directly to readers (addressing them as “you”) and covers news on climate change, LGBTQ rights, and other topics important to them.

Renata Monteiro - P3 editor
“This platform transformed what was a heavy job load into a simple process.”
Renata Monteiro
P3 Editor, Público

Inviting younger readers to contribute content

Crowdsourcing on social media helped P3 keep a pulse on younger readers’ interests. In 2019, they went a step further, launching the Megafone op-ed section – inviting users to submit their own articles, photos, and videos.

Younger readers loved having a voice: 30 percent of P3 traffic now comes from Megafone. “Since day one, we wanted to create community and bring people to our sites, destroying the wall that separates journalists from readers,” says Social Media Editor Amanda Ribeiro.

As Megafone grew in popularity, managing user-submitted content became challenging. The entire article submission and review process was email-based. Editors manually sorted through email submissions, and author communications took place via email. Editors struggled to keep up. Some emails went unanswered and slow communication derailed stories.

“It was a never-ending chain of emails to send,” Ribeiro shares. “It was frustrating for us and also for the authors.” The system needed an overhaul.

Streamlining user content submissions

In 2022, Público attended Table Stakes Europe – a collaboration of the World Association for News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the Google News Initiative (GNI) Digital Growth Program – which helps newspapers drive digital growth by refocusing on their audiences. The experience inspired Público to research their younger audience’s interests and develop other content areas and formats. It also got them thinking about how to streamline user-generated content.

With guidance from GNI, the Público team worked on developing a new platform.

“It was not a simple project – it involved working with three external development teams, each one in charge of one part of the tech stack,” explains IT Product Manager Marcelo Ivo Martinho. “The main goal was to build a platform that could manage all the submissions and keep the user updated through the whole revision process. At the same time, on the editorial side, we needed to integrate the whole process into their daily content management system.”

Martinho consulted with GNI to develop and fine-tune the system, meeting regular benchmarks. “Overall, the process was seamless,” he says, “even with all of those external development partners and trying to keep Público's visual identity coherent throughout the submission flow."

In April 2023, Público launched their new user content submission platform “Mega Megafone.”

  • 36% increase (+42,000) in monthly site visitors
  • 483 user articles submitted since launch
  • 32 user articles published monthly (average)

Bringing more reader voices to the mix

Mega Megafone makes it easier for users to submit content and automatically be notified as their articles make their way through the editing and publishing process. It saves editors time and headaches by moving the process off email and onto a centralized internal online system, automating submission acceptance and posting notifications for authors.

“This platform transformed what was a heavy job load into a simple process,” says P3 Editor Renata Monteiro. “We edit on the same platform where the user submits content, and they can see us deliberating in real time. When we approve their article and it’s published, they’re notified. No more sending out links via email. It took us one day to get used to the new process. It really was love at first sight.”

In July 2023, P3 had 179 user-submitted articles, and published 50 of them. Since the new platform launched, 483 user articles have been submitted, with an average 32 articles published per month. Jesus says thanks to the new platform, they’re receiving more user articles and publishing better-quality stories. Importantly, it frees editors up to work on the quality of the user-submitted stories, improving the content offered to readers. Mega Megafone also brought an uptick in new subscriptions, and visitors are spending more time reading each article.

Going forward, the team hopes Mega Megafone will bring more audience members into the fold. They are looking to replicate the platform within other verticals, further engaging readers in not only consuming, but also contributing content.

“We’re discussing how to embed direct prompts within articles,” Jesus says, inviting readers to submit personal stories and photos related to newsworthy events. “The platform is helping us fulfill our mission: Giving a voice to our young readers and responding to each one, so we can maintain a healthy community and keep the conversation going.”

Our platform - Megafone
Screenshot 2024-01-19 1.25.06 PM
Our platform - Megafone
Screenshot 2024-01-19 1.25.06 PM
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