Director of Audience

Director of Audience 

A startup news outlet based in Chicago is seeking a creative and enterprising professional to lead our efforts to build a new journalism brand. The key goals for this position included:

  • Develop a strategy for building and engaging audience for our work
  • Create a data-centric approach to measuring and growing public engagement
  • Lead efforts to earn revenue from sponsorships, memberships and subscriptions

Our yet-to-be-named website, digital presence and events will aim to focus public attention on investigative and solutions-focused journalism about government in Chicago and Illinois, leading to positive changes for residents of the city and state. You will build your own team and be a key member of the organization’s leadership team.

The successful candidate will be excited about generating cutting-edge ideas for reaching readers, listeners and the broader community. Engagement of diverse communities is a top priority. Your tools will include a variety of media formats, events and public outreach, from podcasts to newsletters to public appearances by our journalists. A member of the CEO’s executive team, this key leader will help drive our strategy across platforms and in live presentation, including creative outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are the Illinois Solutions Partnership, a collaboration of the Better Government Association and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Our startup launched operations in early 2022, thanks to a $10 million, five-year commitment from McCormick, plus the BGA’s commitment to devote a growing staff of reporters, editors and other resources to the effort. Both partners intend to make this a sustainable enterprise beyond the initial five-year period, and this executive will share key responsibility for making this happen.

This ambitious new collaboration builds on the complementary missions of the Foundation—which carries on the legacy of legendary Chicago Tribune Publisher Robert R. McCormick—and the BGA, a nearly 100-year-old investigative journalism organization. A separate BGA policy arm also advocates for open, accountable and equitable government. The new venture will combine deep-dive investigations with reporting focused on potential solutions to problems that plague residents of Illinois and Chicago, providing information they need to hold their government accountable and engage public officials and civic leaders in efforts aimed at reform.

“Solutions journalism” applies the rigor of investigative reporting to finding relevant solutions to problems. The partnership’s reporting will focus on solutions in public safety and criminal justice, equity, government finance and accountability and education.

Reports to: President and CEO.

Key collaborative relationships: editor in chief, managing editor, vice president of operations, director of development, director of policy.

Direct reports: marketing manager, manager of partnerships and local content, social media content strategist, event programmer.

Major responsibilities

  • Build and lead a best-in-class audience engagement team, including social media, marketing, content optimization, and community involvement. 
  • Develop data-driven growth plans and address a diverse array of audiences across website and mobile, social media, newsletters, podcasts, events and partnerships, setting clear goals and rigorously measuring performance.
  • Direct efforts to increase authentic connection to Black, Latinx, Asian-American and underserved communities, both virtually and at live events.
  • Work with the revenue officer to optimize revenue potential of BGA audience and activities, deploying all media channels and public outreach activities.
  • Work with the news and policy teams to participate in efforts to grow audience and connect authentically to communities, applying best practices in connecting with residents, civic leaders, influencers and government actors.
  • Enhance digital versions of stories and develop new formats to engage current members and subscribers and to attract new ones.
  • Direct efforts to track real-time and overall traffic patterns, advise on apps, software and analytics tools.
  • Create and execute campaign plans and strategies, mobilization efforts and engagement to raise awareness and action.

Job requirements

  • Bachelor’s in marketing, communications, journalism or related field. Advanced degree preferred.
  • A minimum of 7 years relevant industry experience with 5+ years hands-on in audience development, digital marketing and audience retention, with a focus on journalism, policy or related content areas.  
  • Demonstrated ability to manage, lead and mentor a team across multiple areas of focus while prioritizing objectives and demands within a matrixed business structure.
  • Exceptional skill at clear, concise, and compelling communication.   
  • Strong analytical background for data-driven rigor in resource allocation and decision-making.   
  • Collaborative approach in working with other BGA leaders and BGA partners to advance the BGA mission.
  • Strong curiosity and motivation, coupled with a love for the BGA audience, brand and mission.
  • Knowledge of industry trends, benchmarks, best practices, to ensure the BGA is a trailblazer.

Compensation and Benefits

Salary for a fully qualified candidate is $95,000 and may be negotiable for those with exceptional experience and qualifications. We are looking for talented, high-potential colleagues who can contribute to the success of this enterprise, and such candidates who may not meet all the listed job requirements are invited to apply.

Position also includes medical, dental, and vision insurance; a comprehensive paid time off package; and a 401(k) with an employer match.

How to Apply

Submit your cover letter and resume to We will begin reviewing submissions immediately and we will consider applicants while the posting remains on our website. 

We encourage applicants from traditionally underrepresented communities, including people of color, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities. The Better Government Association is an equal opportunity employer. We’re committed to cultivating and preserving a culture of inclusion and connectedness for all employees. We welcome the unique contributions you can bring in terms of education, opinions, culture, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity and expression, nation of origin, age, languages spoken, veteran status, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation and beliefs.