Now in the News: Zette Launches Online News Subscription Service

February 10, 2023

Zette Launches Online News Subscription Service

Zette, a San Francisco startup trying to bring the news to younger readers while also generating revenue for digital media publications, has launched its subscription service. The startup has partnered with 100 news publications including Forbes, Haaretz and dozens of local U.S. newspapers owned by McClatchy and Boone Newsmedia. Additional publications will be added this year.

The service starts at $9.99 monthly for the ability to access up to 30 paywalled articles at any of Zette’s partner publications. The first 30 days are currently free. A 60-story limit costs $19.99 monthly and a 90-story limit costs $29.99 after which users can purchase additional story credits “a la carte,” according the website. Users can also generate additional free credits by sharing articles, the company told me.

After signing up, users install Zette’s web browser extension for Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Firefox. Then, anytime a reader opens a paywalled story online, the extension pops up and allows the reader to unlock the story. Zette (pronounced like “gazette”) is also working on launching iOS and Android apps this spring, as well as adding a web extension for Safari soon, the company told me.

The startup was founded in 2020 by Yehong Zhu, 27, a former product manager at Twitter. She also wrote for a few Harvard-affiliated publications while studying philosophy, government and cybersecurity at the university, and covered national news at Forbes in 2016. “I could see that the future of journalism was probably heading towards the subscription model where individual publications would paywall their content,” Zhu told me last year. “The other issue, though, is that if everybody paywalls their content, where does that leave the readers? We can’t subscribe to 100 different outlets and websites.

Funding Wins Fuel Local Journalism Initiatives

Three recent funding announcements demonstrate the role that philanthropy can play as one pillar for sustaining essential local journalism. These investments in local news also highlight the essential connection between journalism and informed, engaged communities. Local newsrooms looking to serve their audiences better can take a lesson from the types of reporting projects that earn funder support.

Over the course of one week in January 2023, three different newsrooms, all graduates of LMA Lab for Journalism Funding programs, secured a total of nearly $2 million for local reporting initiatives.

Enlace Latino NC received $1 million in funding from American Journalism Project to expand their coverage for Latinos in North Carolina. The funding will enable Enlace Latino NC to build a revenue and operations team to support the newsroom’s growth and “ensure that North Carolina has trusted, high-quality local news by and for its Latinx and immigrant communities,” AJP said in announcing the grant.

“Local reporting needs more than the support of its readers,” said Lupita Parra, who worked on the grant for Enlace Latino NC. “Through funding, philanthropy not only helps newsrooms survive and thrive; it also signals to key stakeholders and people in power that local journalism matters and is an essential part of a healthy community.

WSJ Cuts Through The Noise With New Newsletter ‘For Only The Biggest News’

The Wall Street Journal has launched a new newsletter…with a difference. Rather than a regular publishing schedule, WSJ News Debrief will only be sent when big news events happen.

Leigh Kamping-Carder, The WSJ’s Head of Newsletters, came up with the concept after the publisher saw initial success around special editions of newsletters, and were exploring using pop-ups. “Every time there was big news, the newsletter team would get asked, are we going to do a pop-up?” she explained. “Pop-up newsletters are really valuable, but for us they’re a big investment in time and resources, not just in the newsroom but in engineering and marketing and design.”

“We were always wrestling with the question of whether it was worth it to start a pop-up for certain events. So the idea I came up with was, why don’t we do an ongoing ‘pop-up’, and just have one list that we can keep building.”

So the WSJ News Debrief was born. The newsletter will focus on making sense of not just breaking news events, but planned ones too like the Oscars and Midterm elections. Its first edition, which went out on Tuesday, was focused on Biden’s State of the Union Address.

“For readers it’s really valuable because there’s a lot of newsletters out there, there’s a lot competing for people’s time,” Kamping-Carder outlined. “This can be something where it only shows up for those really big news moments, and that could really serve people.

Paxton Media Group Acquiring Camden Media Co.

Paxton Media group is acquiring the Chronicle-Independent, the Lee County Observer, the Blythewood Country Chronicle, the Winnsboro/Fairfield County Country Chronicle, the Ft. Jackson Leader, The Shaw News, and assorted glossy magazines and websites from Camden Media Co., a long-time partnership owned by Charles H. Morris of Savannah, Ga. and Mike Mischner of Camden, S.C.Camdem Media Co. was represented by Randy Cope of Cribb, Cope & Potts.

Paxton Media Group, a 125 year old family owned media company headquartered in Paducah, Kentucky, is managed by fourth and fifth generation Paxton family members. The company owns more than 120 newspapers across the Southeast and Midwest including newspapers in Lancaster, Chester and Chesterfield counties which are adjacent to

Camden Media Co. markets. Among the newspapers that Paxton owns in North Carolina are those in High Point, Goldsboro, Henderson, Sanford, Monroe, Lenoir, Forest City, Roanoke Rapids, Lexington, Asheboro, Burlington, Kinston, New Bern and Jacksonville.

“We are excited to add Camden Media Co. newspapers to our growing portfolio in the Carolinas,” said Jamie Paxton, PMG president and CEO. “PMG believes strongly in the value of local newspapers and the vital role they play in the communities that they serve. We appreciate being chosen to be the stewards of these important community assets and intend to work hard to maintain the trust that these publications have earned over their long and storied history.

A New Report Urges A Pivot Beyond Local Journalism Into ‘Civic Information

There is no substitute for journalism. For-profit legacy newspapers may no longer muster enough reporting capacity to cover their communities — especially if they’re owned by a corporate chain or a hedge fund. But independent journalism with reporters, editors and ethical standards are fundamental to providing the public with the news and information it needs to govern itself in a democracy.

Today we are seeing an explosion of independent local news outlets, mostly digital, mostly nonprofit. It’s happening in the Boston area and across the country. Yet a different kind of vision, stretching back to the earliest days of the web, persists: that members of the public can take charge of at least some of their own information needs. We used to call these people citizen journalists, and it became fashionable to sneer when that vision fell short of its most idealistic expectations. Yet it persists in some quarters and — harnessed properly — could still prove useful to grassroots democracy and storytelling.