November 25, 2014

David Beard’s first task as executive editor of will be to promote the public media organization’s “journalistic city states,” he said in an interview.

That won’t be a small task. PRI is a Minnesota-based digital media company perhaps best known for “The World,” a show put together in Boston. Its newsroom operates out of WGBH, a PBS affiliate. It has partnerships with “Frontline,” “Nova,” GlobalPost and Global Voices. Beard will be its first executive editor.

Beard told Poynter his primary goal is to grow PRI’s reach by making potential audience members aware of the “treasures” the company has to offer, including Radio Ambulante host Daniel Alarcón, “Studio 360” and “The Takeaway with John Hockenberry”.

“I think its audience, like so much of journalism, is just a tiny fraction in the universe of people who want to see and hear it,” Beard said. “My job will be to make that a bigger fraction.”

Over the summer, PRI’s website attracted an average of 1 million unique visitors, compared to 390,000 over the same period the previous year, said Michael Skoler, general manager of PRI. Most of the traffic came through social media; more than half of it was from mobile users. And the audience is young. 66 percent of users are under the age of 45 and 50 percent are under 35.

Beard said growing PRI’s audience will likely mean thinking up new traffic drivers rather than rely on “hour-by-hour obeisance to Facebook.” He wants to embark on a listening tour of the newsroom before finalizing his plan, but says it will likely involve tweaking the existing newsletter strategy and coming up with new ways to interact with PRI’s audience.

Beard will work out of PRI’s “The World” newsroom at WGBH in Boston, where he’ll supervise a staff of 10 editors, producers and social media managers.

It won’t be Beard’s first job in Boston. He was previously the editor of and assistant managing editor of The Boston Globe. He also did a hitch as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press in the Caribbean and Latin America, which Skoler said makes him a good fit for the internationally focused PRI.

“David is pretty darn close to what our ideal was,” Skoler said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the relationship between PRI and “The World”. The two are not separate organizations. The story also misidentified the “treasures” incoming executive editor David Beard plans to highlight. They include “Studio 360” and “The Takeaway with John Hockenberry”.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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