Is Scale In Digital News Getting Easier To Find?
Coincidentally, two very different digital membership organizations — one serving the commercial news sector, the other independent nonprofit media — reported their annual results. They sounded a common theme: Scale obviously matters more and more to prospering these days, but it is also not out of reach for mid-sized and even very small news outlets.
The Institute for Nonprofit News’ impact report for 2021 said the organization is up to 360 members. By INN’s count, their work was republished and redistributed across 6,000 outlets, including many commercial ones. That’s a marker of collaboration that continues to widen the reach of the network, whose members employ roughly 2,700 journalists with budgets totaling an estimated $500 million.
At the Local Media Consortium, which helps local members negotiate tech stack contracts and share ad revenues with national players, the stats were similar. The consortium calculated savings and added revenues of $57 million to its 101 members — a 21% year-to-year increase.
Both organizations are comparatively young, but time moves fast in digital publishing. When INN launched in 2009, it had just a dozen members. In the pandemic year of 2021 alone, it added 78. Executive director and CEO Sue Cross suggested in an introductory essay to the report that the maturing organization has reached a tipping point, “accelerating INN’s evolution from hundreds of mission-aligned organizations into a mutually supporting media network. And this creates the systems to effectively fund local news at scale.
Delaware News Journal Newsroom Union Ratifies First Contract
In a first for the newsroom of Delaware’s largest newspaper, the newsroom of The News Journal/Delaware Online have ratified a two-year contract with national owner Gannett.
The local members of the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, the local unit of the Communication Workers of America that represents 19 News Journal workers, voted 14-3 to ratify the contract, while three workers at associated state weeklies also unanimously supported the deal.
The contract stipulates two $1,200 bonuses to all represented workers, one to be paid immediately and one that will be paid at the start of next year. It also maintains salaries and wages for all workers as long as they continue in their roles and sets a standard 40-hour workweek with mandatory time-and-a-half overtime pay. Paid time off will range from a minimum of 15 days a year to a maximum of 32, depending on the worker’s tenure.
In return, the unionized workers agree to not strike during the effective time period that runs until March 2024.
New Latino Media Startup Launches With Historic $80M Raise
Latina activists and entrepreneurs Jess Morales Rocketto and Stephanie Valencia have raised $80 million to launch a new Hispanic media company called the Latino Media Network. Why it matters: It’s one of the largest capital raises for a Latina-owned and operated startup in the U.S.
“It’s pretty audacious for people like us to be doing something this big,” Morales Rocketto said in an interview. “Steph and I have been raising money for a long time, but this is orders of magnitude bigger than what we’ve ever done.” Driving the news: With the capital, the duo has acquired 18 Hispanic radio stations across 10 markets from TelevisaUnivision.
• The deal, valued at $60 million, is one of the largest single acquisitions of radio stations by a Latino-owned and operated company.
“Those 10 markets are some of the most dense markets in the country,” Valencia said, referring to markets like Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, San Antonio, McAllen, Fresno and Las Vegas. “They basically give us access to one-third of the Hispanic population in this country.”
Reader Revenue Models Keep In Mind People Who Won’t Pay Full Price (Yet)
Reader revenue models are critical for many publications. In recent years, memberships and subscriptions have outstripped advertising revenues for the first time for some titles. The New York Times’ digital subscribers, for example, now account for 7.6 million, approximately 90% of its total subscriptions, with all subscriptions accounting for approximately 67% of its revenue as of the third quarter of 2021.
Almost half of news leaders (47%) surveyed by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism last December said they were worried that subscription models may “super-serve” richer and more educated audiences. Some news outlets are experimenting with more inclusive models to ensure the news produced by news organizations isn’t just for those who can afford the entry fee.
South Africa’s Daily Maverick offers a “pay what you can afford” model, while Spain’sallows members to pay nothing at all. In Portugal, Público has offered free digital subscriptions to unemployed people, while Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter has flexed its paywall to attract younger and more geographically diverse audiences. While discounted subscriptions or memberships aimed at getting different audience groups into a pipeline are commonplace, we spoke to three news outlets trying to do memberships and subscriptions with inclusivity in mind.