After crowdfunding success, Swiss magazine Republik charts a course to “reclaim journalism as a profession”

In its first seven hours of existence, the Swiss online news magazine Republik — a startup with the allure of in-depth journalism and membership transparency — gained 3,000 subscribers and 750,000 Swiss francs. But that whirlwind of support created a new pressure: delivering on its promise. Thirteen months (and thousands more members) later, Republik is living up to the hype, reporting substantive investigations and finding new ways to engage and collaborate with readers — like virtual “dinner parties” to discuss the impact of its work. “If you don’t have democracy, if you don’t have really good information that you can cite, there’s a problem,” Susanne Sugimoto, Republik’s CEO, told me. She calls 20 Minutes, the free Tamedia tabloid read by about half the country each week, “a business success story, but it’s not a success story in terms of journalism with a deep quality.” Members of the Continue reading "After crowdfunding success, Swiss magazine Republik charts a course to “reclaim journalism as a profession”"

Dutch news organization De Correspondent is getting more money toward its global expansion

Dutch darling De Correspondent got its start in the Netherlands in 2013 as a wildly successful crowdfunded news site promising ad-free, in-depth journalism and close reader participation in the reporting process. It’s now a few steps closer to launching its English-language global counterpart here in the U.S. On Monday, the organization announced that it’s received $950,000 in funding from the Omidyar Network. De Correspondent now has $1.8 million total behind its global expansion (New York University professor Jay Rosen is working with it on these efforts, and studying member-funded journalism best practices through the Membership Puzzle Project). Blue State Digital (which ran digital strategy for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns) and Dutch design studio Momkai (a founding partner of De Correspondent) will help spread the word about its global edition The Correspondent, cofounder and CEO of De Correspondent Ernst-Jan Pfauth wrote in a post announcing the Continue reading "Dutch news organization De Correspondent is getting more money toward its global expansion"

Medium abruptly cancels the membership programs of its 21 remaining subscription publisher partners

Medium has informed publishers using its platform to offer paid memberships that it’s ending that feature. An email at the end of last month from Medium’s head of partnerships Basil Enan told publishers that the company was planning to discontinue memberships in May. “We were among the first to sell memberships on Medium, among the few local organizations working with them,” Chris Faraone, founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, told me. “We’ve had an arrangement with them for two years. I’m not saying they don’t have a right to break it. We’ve been scaling back, trying to get people to other platforms anyway. But it’d be nice to have more of a heads up.” (Faraone also works as the news and features editor of alt-weekly DigBoston.) “Our experience in dealing with a lot of these tech-oriented operations is that there’s some good reception, Continue reading "Medium abruptly cancels the membership programs of its 21 remaining subscription publisher partners"

Zetland’s members asked for an audio version — and now it’s more popular than their written stories

— A feather boa, an inflatable cactus, and a pair of zebra masks appeared on a stage (no, really) as a drummer began tapping away at cymbals. A medley of viral videos played behind a man standing downstage, whose monologue on the “attention war” in technology had just been interrupted by this impromptu parade. Granted, this all happened in Danish — but the language of technology overload is universal. But how often do you see journalists broach the topic of content overconsumption with their audiences? This was the 13th Zetland Live, the in-person performance showcase of Copenhagen-based, membership-driven news outlet Zetland, and the monologue-giver was Zetland’s cofounder and audio editor Hakon Mosbech. I couldn’t tell you what he said, but the audience seemed to respond enthusiastically. It’s at events like these that Mosbech and other Zetland journalists have gotten to know their members face-to-face. And it’s where Continue reading "Zetland’s members asked for an audio version — and now it’s more popular than their written stories"

Can a news organization provide the service of feeling connected through its membership program?

Moving can mean losing your network. Moving to a different country can almost guarantee that. Can a niche news organization focused on those recent relocaters help readers find a new sense of belonging — and help the organization develop reader revenue through a membership program? As an international organization with a local focus, The Local Europe caters to English-speaking expats trying to resettle in a new country and culture. Its sites in nine countries discuss topics from navigating the apartment market in Sweden to cultural bathroom habits — all centered on how to make this new place your home. So why not get an extra dose of community by joining their membership program, and supporting their journalism while you’re at it? That’s part of the pitch Paul O’Mahony and the rest of The Local Europe’s team are making to readers in their top three markets, joining the train of Continue reading "Can a news organization provide the service of feeling connected through its membership program?"

How can local independent news orgs build successful membership programs?

Would free pizzas offered by a local pizza restaurant entice you to subscribe to your hyperlocal online news source? That’s one approach Covering Katy, an online news outlet in Katy, Texas, has been taking to drum up local support, they shared at the Center for Cooperative Media‘s Reader Revenue Summit in partnership with LION Publishers on Friday. (The pizzeria can make money from drinks, appetizers, or other dishes the patrons buy when they go in for the pizza.) The summit brought together people from 50 local independent online news orgs to brainstorm about developing and strengthening membership or subscription models at Montclair State University. Most local news sites haven’t benefited from the Trump bump many national sites have. On top of that, local news sites that became nonprofits (think The Tulsa Frontier, Rivard Report, and Honolulu Civil Beat) realized they needed to pull funding
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Continue reading "How can local independent news orgs build successful membership programs?"

For public radio stations, “membership” mostly means “money”

News organizations’ membership initiatives need to be about engagement and relationships, not just money: That’s one of the tenets of the Membership Puzzle Project, a one-year research project that NYU’s Jay Rosen launched last May to help figure out what the “social contract between journalists and members” should look like. MPP released a report last month on the news membership model; this week, it released more research about how membership programs are working at public radio stations. There’s an overview report by Anika Gupta and a database of 50 public radio sites and their membership models by Corinne Osnos. A couple of tidbits and trends from the two posts: — All nine public radio stations that Gupta spoke with run pledge drives at least once a year. But pledge drives don’t have to be long:
New York Public Radio (WNYC) told us about the abbreviated, “warp speed” pledge drives Continue reading "For public radio stations, “membership” mostly means “money”"