Email News: Its Contribution To Engagement And Monetization
In the last few years, the emergence of paid newsletter platforms, such as Substack, Revue, and Bulletin, have opened up new opportunities for individuals and small publishers to distribute and monetise content. A number of high-profile columnists have left big news organisations to run newsletter-based businesses, with a few of the most successful earning salaries in the high six figures.1 At the same time, digital-born brands such as Politico and Axios have found that smart, journalist-curated emails have been a key driver of growth for businesses which cover a range of niches from politics to health, technology, sports, and local.2 Meanwhile, mainstream news organisations have been shifting resources into email production as they try to attract new subscribers, build loyalty with existing users, and introduce more personalisation into their digital products (Jack 2016; Newman et al. 2020). The New York Times, for example, now produces 50 different emails read by 15 million people a week.3
‘The Washington Post’ Debuts Tech Newsletter
The Washington Post is launching a twice-weekly newsletter to help people grasp and take control of technology, starting Nov. 22. The new newsletter, “The Tech Friend,” will be anchored by strategy editor Shira Ovide. Appearing on Tuesdays and Fridays, it will build on the core value of “Help Desk,” The Post’s personal tech vertical.
“In the year since we launched ‘Help Desk,’ we’ve seen a large appetite for coverage that helps people understand how rapid changes in technology impact their lives,” states Yun-Hee Kim, personal technology editor at The Washington Post.
Kim continues that more than half of “Help Desk” readers are under the age of 45. “This newsletter felt like a natural next step in expanding this coverage as it provides busy readers the quick, easy and digestible tips they can immediately apply to common dilemmas such as how to use your technology more sustainably, or how to reset your relationship with social media,” Kim states.
Ovide has been covering technology for more than a decade at the New York Times, Bloomberg Opinion and the Wall Street Journal. “Think of me as a wise, slightly grumpy friend who sorts through the babble to help you feel more confident about your technology choices, wags her finger at technology that is failing you, and helps you see the context that is bigger than you,” Ovide states.
The newsletter will also feature “Help Desk” columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler, who will write it three times a month, and “Help Desk” reporters Heather Kelly, Chris Velazco, Tatum Hunter and Danielle Abril.
Why Meta’s Withdrawal From Journalism Will Hurt Local Media Companies
Last week was tough as we watched our partners at the Meta Journalism Project get laid off. It marked the end of many industry initiatives that often included direct funding for local media organizations. Since 2019, we distributed over $16.8 million to local media companies in North America through a variety of initiatives funded by Facebook/Meta. That’s just LMA; many other industry organizations also distributed Facebook/Meta funds.
Most of the $16.8 million ($12+ million) was distributed through the COVID 19 relief fund. This went to publishers who were hardest hit by the pandemic. Nearly 80 percent of recipients were family or independently owned; more than half were published by or for communities of color; nearly 40% were digitally native publishers; and over 1/3 were nonprofits. 82% used the grants to expand their local reporting on COVID 19 issues. 23% said the funding outright saved their newsrooms from extinction.
Another $4.13 million was distributed through the Meta Accelerators – three focused on reader revenue and one on video. The average distribution was $50,000 per publisher for the reader revenue program. Over 100 publishers participated, with nearly half of them owned or led by people of color.
About $280,000 was distributed as grants through the Branded Content Project, which helped large and small media organizations develop their strategy. To date, more than $50 million has been generated by the media companies who went through the various labs, bootcamps and certification program.
Finally, nearly $200,000 was or will be distributed through the Crosstown project, in collaboration with the University of Southern California. Those funds paid for half of a data journalist’s salary in the participating newsrooms.
There’s not enough room in this blog post to share the impact on local media companies who went through the various programs funded by Meta Journalism Project. My favorite is Chris Bennett, publisher of The Seattle Medium and LMA digital sales innovator of the year. After Chris went through the Branded Content Project bootcamp, he sold over $500,000 in campaigns. For a small publisher, this was game changing. I could share dozens and dozens of these kinds of stories.
Times-Journal Inc. Buys Six Georgia Newspapers
Times-Journal Inc., parent company of the Marietta Daily Journal, has purchased six metro Atlanta newspapers from Southern Community Newspapers, Inc. (SCNI). The publications acquired by Times-Journal are the Gwinnett Daily Post, Rockdale Citizen, Newton Citizen, Henry Herald, Clayton News and the Jackson Progress-Argus.
The sale was announced today by Times-Journal Publisher Otis Brumby III and Michael Gebhart, president and CEO of SCNI. A seventh SCNI newspaper, the Albany Herald, will be retained by the company and be operated by Gebhart. In addition, Gebhart will remain employed by TJI as a senior advisor.
The acquisition brings to 21 the number of Georgia newspapers and corresponding websites published by TJI. Those publications now stretch from northwest Georgia, throughout metro Atlanta and east to Madison.