Thought leaders who work inside, alongside and outside news media firms were invited to a workshop hosted by Prof Charlie Beckett of POLIS, the London School of Economic’s Journalism think-thank. The discussion was sparked by concerns about fake news and focused on three themes: data for better journalism; engagement tools and systems that deliver value for user and publisher; and, public context and audiences.

Charlie asked me to facilitate the discussion on data and to make a few opening remarks on the strategic importance of data to news firms. I was happy to oblige, not least because findings from IRG’s latest study into the decision making of newsmedia executives shows that leaders at financially-successful firms have data top of mind.

I also got to point out that data is a strategic priority for news media companies for a variety of reasons, but that I like to organise them into three areas conceptually, though the boundaries are rather blurred and there are overlaps practically. That said then, here are the 3Ps:

There is the data we need for (1) PRODUCTION of the stuff we make – data that helps us identify news, data that helps us assess and evaluate sources, and data that underpins decisions we make about the shapes and timing of the news.

Then there’s data we need to understand our (2) PERFORMANCE strategies – data about the performance of the content, the performance of the content makers, performance and creation of the cash.

Finally, there’s also the data we need for (3) PERMISSION. That is the data about our activities that are of relevance to policymakers, regulators, pressure groups, and the public at large (whether or not they are our customers).

Consider those data categories through the lens of trust invite a number of questions.

While my remarks were open, we followed The Chatham House Rule during the (very frank and fascinating) workshops. For a flavour of the discussions, search the Twitter hashtag #POLIStrust.

Charlie will be writing up insights from the event more formally, but in the meantime, I wanted to share my slides and notes here.

And, of course, I welcome any feedback – and look forward to continuing the important conversation at the next Digital Editors Network meeting to hosted by Rob Owers of Twitter London.

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