The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Jason Kint is CEO of the trade association Digital Content Next. Knight Foundation is supporting Digital Content Next with $156,250 to offer new memberships to digital native journalism organizations. Photo: Jason Kint addresses Digital Content Next members at the association's annual conference in 2015. Photo courtesy Digital Content Next.
Next. It’s rare I speak to an industry observer without fielding a question about the “Next” in our name. Yes, it was very much intentional. In a world of rapidly accelerating innovation, evolution and, at times, revolution, we are very clearly moving beyond the media world of the past. With Next, we set in motion the wheels of progress—an active membership paving the future for trusted content. Every media company, old and new, large and small, must be pursuing “Next” or risk being lost to history.
With the support of Knight Foundation over the next two years we will bring 10 innovative digital natives and nonprofit news organizations into our membership. These companies will further grow our stable of content and business models as well as the diversity of our audiences and executives. Fully integrating these digital media companies into our membership will provide unique value to both the association’s current and new members through peer-to-peer learning, shared research, and exclusive events focused on digital content innovation and member best practices.
The first of 10 eventual recipients of Knight Foundation-supported memberships are:
• Billy Penn – A mobile-first news platform dedicated to covering the important issues affecting Philadelphia’s 3Ms: mobile-minded millennials. Billy Penn is designed to connect people to relevant news and information about Philadelphia, and to drive civic engagement through related groups and events.
• The Marshall Project – A nonprofit news organization that focuses on the American criminal justice system through deep investigative projects and narratives and profiles that put a human face on criminal justice, as well as explanatory and contextual pieces, along with guest commentary and voices from inside the system.
• The Texas Tribune – The only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs and engages with Texans on public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. The Tribune aims to bring greater transparency and accountability to the community through news, data and events.
• Voice of San Diego: The first digital nonprofit news organization to serve local information needs with hard-hitting investigative reports along with opportunities to engage. Voice of San Diego is regarded as a pioneer in the nonprofit news industry for building a business model based on the support of individual members, sponsors and the investment of local and national foundations.
With the significant disruption that is underway in the media, the value exchange between consumers, advertisers and publishers is being tested like never before as vertical media brands blend together into a digital world. The premium publishers that surpass the expectations of consumers and advertisers will build trust in their brands to stand the test of time. Building and growing a trusted content brand is challenging. A brand that consumers seek out for information, news or entertainment. A brand that distributors like Facebook, Google or Apple crave as a partner for their latest consumer products. A brand that hundreds of tech vendors want to have on their customer list. It’s that trust which truly defines “premium publisher.”
With this Knight Foundation support we will ensure that these digital native companies will be able to focus on their customers, as it’s undeniable that the digital media age is being driven by their expectations. They are great examples for us all as we advance the future of trusted news, information and entertainment. We’re thrilled to have them at the table.
Follow Jason Kint on Twitter @jason_kint.