Monday, January 20, 2020

Collaboration emerges as an effective business model

 Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have said just before signing the Declaration of Independence, "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

News publishers have taken this idea to heart with a trend toward collaborating as a means of survival when so many economic forces are working against them. Collaboration, rather than competition, allows small, vulnerable news organizations to spread the risk and cost of journalism that challenges the powers that be and serves the public interest. 

When they collaborate, small newsrooms get access to at least three scarce resources: time, in the form of help from other organizations; expertise, in the form of people who know how to do things they don't; and money, because the combined organizations can sometimes attract grants that none of them could by themselves.

One example: Nieman Lab reported on the Institute for Nonprofit News's collaborative investigation on the lack of hospitals and health care services in rural America. Twelve news organizations in seven states participated.

Hospitals in rural areas of the U.S. have been closing as population declines, much as local news media have been disappearing. The Institute for Nonprofit News, founded 10 years ago, has 230 members and promotes sharing of resources and expertise that support investigative journalism in the public interest. The funding comes from a variety of national and local foundations and nonprofits.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The winning business strategy builds on relationships

This blog entry was written for, Tips for Journalists in 2020  from other Knight International Journalism fellows.

The losing strategy that seeks mass audiences and mass advertising as measured by unique users and page views has led many media to chase clicks with ever-more sensationalistic content about celebrities, sports figures, imprudent politicians and sex scandals.

Those sites will continue to lose revenue and audience to the search and social platforms, as well as credibility and trustworthiness.

If you build a relationship with your audience, they are more likely to become loyal, to trust your work, to recommend your work, and to be willing to pay to support your mission. The total audience will be smaller, and the percentage willing to pay for your content might be in the single digits, but this public-service, user-focused strategy builds trust and credibility for the long term. Examples are Mediapart in France, in Spain, Animal Politico in Mexico and The Texas Tribune in the U.S.

Versión en español

Here’s a tip: build your email subscriber list. This way you own a relationship with your users, and you can avoid using the search and social platforms as an intermediary. Tailor newsletters for these email subscribers according to their interests and tastes. Other examples of relationship tactics include crowdsourced stories, face-to-face and online events, reader polls, crowdfunding and WhatsApp and Telegram group chats. Read more, in Spanish, about how two websites are monetizing their email newsletters


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