Credit: Photo by Julia Koblitz on Unsplash

'Riches in niches' is an expression that means news publishers can enjoy a lot of success by focusing on a well-defined, narrow market and its specialised audience.

Publishers of all sizes can serve specific interest groups. But mainstream media often prioritises timeliness and broad appeal, while niche media excels at in-depth coverage and specialised insights.

In a recent webinar hosted by analytics platform Smartocto, two niche publishers that cater to the chemistry and financial markets discussed why size is not everything and what mainstream outlets can learn from their approach.

Niche news sites are at an advantage, as they can cover the more original news angles that their specific community is more interested in.

Consider Chemistry World, a publication aimed at chemists, educators, and general enthusiasts. The title has become an authority source in its field.

Sometimes, niche interest news stories spark an interest in the wider news cycle. The ‘sharp rise in the number of schools in England with collapse-risk concrete' is one such example that gained wider attention last year but mainstream news outlets were mostly concerned with the education, political and safety angles.

Chemistry World's offering - 'understanding chemistry at play in RAAC explains the weakening of concrete and how to slow it down' - explored how the material is deteriorating, which is at "the heart of the story", says editor Phillip Robinson.

He spoke to material scientists and experts in corrosion to uncover why the material was used in the first place, what causes the concrete to deteriorate and potential solutions to the problem.

This is more directly relevant to the chemists who regularly read the website. But its coverage of concrete degradation in schools also highlighted the intersection of chemistry with everyday issues relevant to the wider public.

Niche readers also have niche user needs, the desired outcomes that a reader wants from reading news content. Consider how your news stories can satisfy the needs of specific individuals.

The relationship between mainstream and niche media is considered to be more symbiotic than competitive. Another example comes from FIN News, a news website covering institutional asset management, that wanted to find a deeper angle to The Financial Times' piece about the biggest Russian banks that could be targeted by Ukraine invasion sanctions.

Its take on this major news story zoned in on the impact the Russian invasion would have on US pensions and investments. Co-founder and editor Matt McCue says this does not have to come at the expense of speed, as he claims US local news outlets started reporting similar news stories soon after them.

So whether it is stories about chemistry or pension pots, journalists should consider how big news stories have "personal implications" for more specific professions or sections of society.

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