Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

More than 30 college news sites start experimenting with revenue generation models

Jan. 5, 2012, 8:54 a.m., Posted by Benoit Wirz and Amy Starlight Lawrence

pressplus

 

Only a few months after Knight announced it would offset the set-up costs for university publications to use the pay metering tool Press+, more than 30 school publications have signed up to try out the system.

Among these is The Statehouse File, a web-based publication covering Indiana state politics compiled by journalism students and staff at Franklin College. The Statehouse File can use the Press+ tool to require that readers not affiliated with the university pay for access to articles or request that they make donations. The Statehouse File plans to experiment with different levels of paid access to identify what makes the most sense, complementing its strategy of syndicating legislative coverage to other publications for a fee.

Knight’s partnership with Press+ is meant to encourage precisely this type of experimentation. Advertising alone will not cover the costs of providing relevant, contextual, fact-based information to a targeted audience online. As outlined in our recent report and in a Columbia Journalism School study, online news organizations continue to search for revenue streams beyond advertising and philanthropic backing. As relatively low traffic sites with highly engaged audiences, university publications are well placed to expand the search for viable business models.

Paying for access to content does not make sense for all, as demonstrated by the fact that publications like The Atlantic have done away with pay metering while the New York Times has embraced it. And Press+ can be used in a number of ways, with pay metering being just one.

But we feel that exposure to the complicated relationship between user engagement and revenue generation, including how pay metering might work for their publication will undoubtedly be helpful for early-career journalists and media managers, particularly as the broader industry continues to experiment with such tools.

It is encouraging to see the breadth of publications participating in this initiative, ranging from The Harvard Political Review to The Arizona Daily Wildcat at the University of Arizona. The list of schools that have implemented or are in the processing of implementing the tool are listed below.

We look forward to learning from these publications as they experiment and helping to disseminating the findings.

 

College/University

Publication(s)

Auburn U.

The Plainsman

Brown U.

The Brown Daily Herald

Colorado State U.

Rocky Mountain Student Media

Columbia U.

Columbia Political Review

Dartmouth College

The Dartmouth

Emory U.

The Emory Wheel

Franklin College

The Statehouse File

Harvard U.

The Harvard Political Review

Queens College

The Knight News

Southern Illinois U.

The Daily Egyptian

Tufts U.

The Tufts Observer

U. Northern Colorado

The UNC Mirror

U. of Arizona

The Arizona Daily Wildcat

U. of Colorado, Boulder

The CU Independent

U. of Georgia

The Red and Black, The UGA Today

U. of Illinois

The Daily Illini, WPGU, The 217, Buzz

U. of Kentucky

The Blue Nation Blog, The Kentucky Kernel

U. of Maine

The Maine Campus

U. of Pennsylvania

The Daily Pennsylvanian

U. of Pittsburgh

The Pitt News

U. South Florida

The Oracle

U. Tennessee

The Daily Beacon

Utah State U.

The Utah Statesman

Vanderbilt U.

Inside Vandy

Washington U. in St. Louis

Student Life

Wellesley College

The Wellesley News

Yale U.

The Yale Daily News

By Benoit Wirz, director/business consulting, at Knight Foundation and Amy Starlight Lawrence, journalism program associate, at Knight Foundation.