SA Mathieson, who has previously written for OJB about crowdfunding journalism, was one of three speakers at an NUJ Oxford event on how to make digital journalism pay. In a guest post for OJB he sums up the key points.
It is perfectly realistic for journalists to make money out of digital journalism, but the problem comes from making a decent living.
That was the theme to emerge from the NUJ Oxford eventon making digital journalism pay.
He outlined some of the methods for raising money, which can be divided into three types: advertising-funded, marketing for other business and reader-funded. (More on his New Model Journalism site here.)
If you assumed that the future of journalism would only be free (or at least advertiser-funded), says SA Mathieson, you’re wrong. In a guest post for OJB Mathieson – who recently successfully crowdfunded his own project to report on the Scottish referendum – explains why the web turns out to be capable of charging for access too.
The Columbia Review of Journalism recently reported that the Financial Times now has nearly twice as many digital subscribers as print ones, having added 99,000 online customers in 2013.
They pay significant amounts for access: the cheapest online subscription to the FT is £5.19 a week. A free registration process does allow access to 8 articles a month – but try to access a ninth and you have to pay.
The FT was earlier than most to charge online, but many publishers have followed suit. Only a few – such as The Times – lock up everything, but titles including the Telegraph, New York Times and Economist all use metering, allowing non-paying readers access to a limited number of articles before a subscription is required. They have been joined by increasing numbers of trade and local publications.
This isn’t just an option for established titles: as a freelance journalist I write for Beacon, a start-up used by more than 100 journalists in more than 30 countries to publish their reporting. It has “more than several thousand” subscribers after five months’ operation, co-founder Adrian Sanders told the New York Times recently.
Many journalists would find such an idea terrifying: telling everyone how many people are reading my work? Sharing it? Finishing it? There’s simply too much to lose. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
But crowdfunding creates a different dynamic. When I backed SA Mathieson‘s project on Beacon, I wasn’t buying content: I was supporting something I believed in. I was supporting a writer to spend time on one topic.
Notably, Beacon’s own strategy acknowledges this: there is no way to subscribe to the ‘brand’ of Beacon – to get access to all content you must support one specific project. Continue reading →