The newly released 2012 State of the Media report provides an in-depth look at how community news sites are faring.
The report, released by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism interviewed key experts in the industry, including Knight’s Eric Newton and Michele McLellan, journalist and Knight consultant.
Here are some highlights:
Community news sites need to develop multiple revenue streams, the report said: “The most successful (and therefore sustainable), sites are those with a range of revenue streams, which can include local foundations, advertising, subscriptions, special events and membership campaigns, for example.”
Newton told Pew: “The more varied the sources of revenue, the better.”
The emphasis on diversified revenue streams expands on a Knight Foundation on how nonprofit news ventures seek sustainability. The report looked at some of the country’s leading online local nonprofit news ventures, and concluded that successful news organizations – even the nonprofit ones - have to act like digital businesses, particularly making revenue experimentation an important piece of the mix.
Learning New Skills and Being a Part of the Community
Most experts advise that to in order survive, online community news organizations must either develop business skills or bring in people who have that expertise, the report found: “I am convinced that the revenue is there in most communities,” said McLellan. “It is the lack of business focus and expertise that is holding them back.”
This is similar to the conclusions of Knight’s report, which found: “A team of journalists creating a newspaper on the Web is not a sustainable proposition. In addition to business expertise, emerging news organizations need to embrace practices online and offline that include a sophisticated understanding of who they want to reach.”
Other highlights from Pew’s report include:
- Journalism schools are increasingly becoming a larger part of local digital news operations; they’re also taking steps to better prepare their students, like offering master’s degrees in entrepreneurial journalism;
- There’s a growing need for more partnerships amongst new online journalism news organizations and more established media outlets like local television stations, public radio and newspapers;
- Online news sites need to take advantage of technology to disseminate information, by making the best use of technology, they’ll be able to better help people get information on their mobile devices or through other social media channels.
To read more, the full 2012 State of the Media Report is available online.