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Filling the Meter: Measuring the Effectiveness of Paywalls for Online Revenue

June 15, 2012 in Experiments, Resources, Revenue

John Winn Miller was convinced an online paywall could not work. Miller, the former publisher of The Olympian — a daily Washington state newspaper with a daily print circulation of more than 30,000 — and current publisher of the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, firmly believed any form of an online paywall would cost newspaper online advertising revenue. But, in May 2011, Miller, a mere seven months after assuming the position, officially completed his about-face, and the Concord Monitor launched its own version of a metered paywall. It would not be fair, Miller theorized, for cell phone subscribers to receive a free service while landline subscribers are charged for phone service, so why should online readers see all of the Monitor’s content for free while print subscribers face rising home delivery rates?…

A metered paywall is “sticking” in many newsrooms as an attempt to increase digital, content-based revenue. A qualitative study showed that exclusive, enterprise and niche content behind a paywall are helping the bottom line. The study included primary sourcing and interviews with 10-15 publishers and editors in online-only and newspaper newsrooms, as well as media industry executives and experts. The study attempts to address paidcontent concerns as journalism continues its transition from print products to online and seeks new ways to have audience pay for content….

Sources and original interviews include but are not limited to Marty Baron, editor of The Boston Globe; Bill Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at the Columbia Journalism School and former deputy managing editor for The Wall Street Journal; Alan Mutter, author of the “Reflections of the Newsosaur” blog and adjunct lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism; Mike Davis, assistant managing editor for digital development and sports editor of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; and Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for The Poynter Institute.” Source: Filling the Meter: Measuring the Effectiveness of Paywalls for Online Revenue.

CJR’s Guide to Online News Startups

February 24, 2012 in Community, Resources

The News Frontier Database is a searchable, living, and ongoing documentation of digital news outlets across the country. Featuring originally reported profiles and extensive data sets on each outlet, the NFDB is a tool for those who study or pursue online journalism, a window into that world for the uninitiated, and, like any journalistic product, a means by which to shed light on an important topic. We plan to build the NFDB into the most comprehensive resource of its kind.” Source: CJR’s Guide to Online News Startups


“‘Before we launched the database there was no comprehensive resource documenting the many online-only news sites, both national and local, that have emerged in recent years. It’s a big, highly diverse world — overwhelmingly so — and we wanted to help people get a sense of what’s out there. We’re not comprehensive yet in terms of the sheer number of sites we’ve documented — that will come — but we are comprehensive in the amount of data we collect on every site we profile.

Another major reason was that there’s a lot of talk about online news and online news business models, but very little reporting on how online news sites actually function — and that’s especially true for local news sites. We wanted our contribution to that conversation to be more fact-based, more rigorous.

We felt that news readers could use this type of resource to discover new sources of information, and we wanted people in the field of online journalism to have a resource through which they could look at what other sites were doing around the country and compare, contrast, do research, get ideas, hear war stories, etc.’” Source: 10,000 Words

Newsonomics: How the emerging business of digital news shapes what we read and know

December 28, 2011 in Education, Resources, Revenue, Technology

[I]t’s never been more true: a book is a snapshot. I’m glad I got the opportunity to write the Newsonomics book. It gave me a couple of months to step back from the sometimes-maddening pace of the 24/7 Twitter-driven news world and think about the big, impactful trends driving what the news itself is becoming, what we all will be able to read, hear and see.

With the book now being published [2010], I’m launching It’s my effort to build on the trends driving daily change in the press, and help me keep track of them, and how they relate to each other. As I keep track, I hope is helpful to you in keeping track as well. I’ve thought about what keeping track means, and the site design, ably done by Randa Clay, reflects that:

  • 5Spot: My new quick-take, mostly daily feature highlights what I think are top developments to note, and why, out of the daily torrent.
  • The Skinny: Here, I highlight data and quotes that we simply shouldn’t pass over too quickly; ones picked off the conveyor best of soundbites and reports. Some of the data will come from my Outsell work; some of it from other sources. Here, too, you’ll see writing from others in the industry I’ve tapped to contributed their deep and specific knowledge. To begin with, I’ve tapped two people on the money side of the biz. Some of you will recall AdMan from Content Bridges, an experienced (and anonymous) print ad executive, with a keen perspective on marketplace change. You’ll also now find “Ask the Agency Guy,” contributions from Tim Perlstein, a Director of Strategy at digital agency Razorfish. (Of course, his comments represent his personal views, and not necessarily those of Razorfish or its clients.)
  • Content Bridges: I’ve been writing my Content Bridges blog since 2005 and will continue to do so. The posts can still be found there, and on Newsonomics.
  • Touts: I point to top posts from familiar and unfamiliar places that I think contribute to our collective understanding. PermaTouts is my page pointing to key sites and bloggers who I think are must-reads.

Plus: It’s all searchable. That searchability comes in especially handy as we’ve added in five years of Content Bridges and Outsell posts as well.” Source: Newsonomics

Less of the Same: The Lack of Local News on the Internet

October 25, 2011 in Distribution, Resources, Technology

Local news outlets get less than one half of one percent of all pageviews in a typical market, according to a new report (pdf) called “Less of the Same: The Lack of Local News on the Internet.”

The report, commissioned as part of the FCC’s quadrennial mandated review of broadcast ownership regulations, was intended as a comprehensive look to evaluate just what the rough times in the news industry have meant for local news, according to Matthew Hindman, the author George Washington University professor who authored the report. A particular aim of the study was to assess how the Internet, and new online news sources, were (or were not) contributing to the FCC’s stated goals of “localism, competition, and diversity” in local news markets.

Using comScore panel data for February, March, and April 2010 for the top 100 broadcast markets, Hindman looked at local online news outlets and found that local news represents just a tiny portion of overall Internet traffic.” Source: Nieman Journalism Lab


Pew Report: How People Learn About Their Local Community

October 21, 2011 in Distribution, Resources

While local TV news remains the most popular source for local information in America, adults rely on it primarily for just three subjects—weather, breaking news and to a lesser extent traffic. And for all their problems, newspapers (both print and on the web) are the source Americans turn to most for a wider range of information than any other source, according to a new survey out today.

The internet has a strong hold in the local community as well. Web-only outlets are now the key source of information on some key subjects such as education or local business and restaurants. And greater disruption seems to lie ahead. For the 79% of Americans who are online, as well as Americans ages 18-39, the internet ranks as a top source of information for most of the local subjects studied in the survey.

These are among the findings of a new a new study produced by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Internet & American Life Project in partnership with John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The survey looks in a new and detailed way at how people learn about community by breaking down local information into 16 key topic areas. The result is a more nuanced understanding of the role each media plays in a community.” Source: Pew Internet

State of the News Media 2011

April 25, 2011 in Craft, Distribution, Resources, Revenue

The State of the News Media 2011 is the eighth edition of our annual report on the health and status of American journalism.

This year’s study contains a series of special reports: a survey on how people use mobile technology to get local news; a report comparing the U.S. newspaper industry with the rest of the world’s and two reports on community news websites. We’ve also redesigned the industry chapters. Each contains a summary essay, which tells the story of that sector, and a data section, which presents a full range of statistics, graphically rendered with minimal text. The report is the work of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism a nonpolitical, nonpartisan research institute funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.” Source: Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism


April 14, 2011 in Craft, Experiments, Resources, Technology

TechFlash is an online news site dedicated to covering the technology industry in the Pacific Northwest. It is a product of the Puget Sound Business Journal, but it was the brainchild of two Post-Intelligencer business reporters. Founders John Cook, executive editor, and Todd Bishop, managing editor, made the leap to online-only in October 2008, even before the P-I did in March 2009.

Cook, whose Twitter handle is @johnhcook, said in an email, “High quality content built around an engaged community seems to be working pretty well for us. We are in a unique situation where our audience is desired by advertisers and they are early adopters of new media. Our community of readers is strong, and we work hard to engage with them and provide them high quality content on a daily basis.”

TechFlash holds The Flashies, an annual Newsmakers Awards program that recognizes achievements in 15 categories, including newcomer of the year, “do-gooder” of the year and tech move/hire of the year.

(Update: Cook and Bishop left TechFlash in March 2011 to form their own site, Geekwire.)


April 14, 2011 in Community, Craft, Experiments, Resources

Founded in January 2009, PubliCola is a blog about Seattle written by journalists who are dedicated to non-partisan, original daily reporting that prioritizes a balanced approach to news. Started by longtime local editor and award-winning reporter Josh Feit, PubliCola is the first online-only news site in state history to get media credentials to cover the state capitol.

PubliCola was off and running. In June 2009, PubliCola hired another award-winning journalist, super-sourced Seattle city hall reporter Erica C. Barnett.

People were afraid that blogging would change journalism. Instead, we believe journalism can change blogging. 21st-Century journalism may look and feel different, and yes Erica isn’t afraid to get cranky, but we’re committed to making sure online news still delivers independent, reliable, even-keeled coverage. And most of all, we’re committed to making sure the coverage sparks honest civic debate.

Bringing you cola for the people, PubliCola is named after Publius Valerius PubliCola, the alias for the authors of the Federalist Papers—the original bloggers.”   Source: PubliCola

April 14, 2011 in Distribution, Experiments, Resources, Revenue

[In 2011], the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last print edition and became an online-only publication. As news organizations experiment with new business models, Hearst’s experience in Seattle may offer lessons.

In a piece last year about the change, Executive Producer Michelle Nicolosi asked, “Is it possible to run an online-only local news site that serves a city’s readers well while turning a profit?”

Linda Thomas of KIRO-FM spoke with Hearst Seattle Media General Manager Pat Balles and reported that the site is not yet profitable:

“[Balles] says they’re on track to make a profit, though he won’t say when. Hearst Corporation is a privately-held company, and [Balles] says stock holders will be the first to know when they’ve turned the corner…

“We are optimistic with the progress made,” Balles told me, “and encouraged by the feedback we are getting from clients on how we are meeting/exceeding expectations with their online campaigns on the SeattlePI, Yahoo, Facebook, Zillow and Search Engine Marketing.”