7: Business Models

Since digital disruption collapsed the traditional advertising model, news media companies are looking for new sources of revenue to keep the business running. Native advertising, paywall and donation are all alternatives to the old model. There’s not a single solution that will bring journalism business back to its heyday. The key is to diversify the sources of income.

Start with the report by David Campbell. Read only Section 6, pp. 41–47.

Maybe it’s too early to say what will result from the shift of control over distribution from news media to social platforms, this analysis provides some insights. The analogy in the end, comparing Facebook to Amazon, and journalism to the now struggling book publishing industry, is quite alarming.

A dutch media start-up called “Blendle” provides curated journalism contents and allows users to pay for journalism stories with one click at a low price. It can be understood as “the iTunes for journalism.” Read Blendle co-founder’s post here.

Native advertising is a new breed of advertisement which takes the form of a journalistic story, but is essentially an advertisement. This model requires a team of professionals creating native ads contents, but it effectively brings revenue to media outlets.

(If you’re curious about native ads, I recommend listening to this Digiday podcast.)

Increasingly, non-profits provide grants to individuals or teams of journalists to work on stories. Just recently, the New York Times Magazine dedicated a whole issue on a story about the Arab Spring funded by the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting. (read the story here)

Crowdfunding is also a useful tool for individual journalists and organisations. NPR’s Planet Money Makes a T-shirt is arguably the best crowdfunded project. It’s rare that the crowd-fund process can be incorporated into the project’s storytelling. Read their post about the project below. Check out the project here, and read the story below to understand why and how they did it.

The upheavals in media economy has changed the career landscape for photojournalists too. Many staffers became freelancers and found it much easier to survive being able to do multimedia. Read DJ Clark’s blog post on how people make a living working in multimedia journalism.

Many journalists aspiring to work on long term projects found it financially difficult. Here are five examples of how photographers, through different ways, managed to fund and complete their projects.