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.
Colorado State U.
Southern Illinois U.
U. Northern Colorado
U. of Arizona
U. of Colorado, Boulder
U. of Georgia
U. of Illinois
U. of Kentucky
U. of Maine
U. of Pennsylvania
U. of Pittsburgh
U. South Florida
Utah State U.
Washington U. in St. Louis