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Funding Journalism in the Digital Age

Business Models, Strategies, Issues and Trends

Jeff Kaye and Stephen Quinn

The news media play a vital role in keeping the public informed and maintaining democratic processes. But that essential function has come under threat as emerging technologies and changing social trends, sped up by global economic turmoil, have disrupted traditional business models and practices, creating a financial crisis. Quality journalism is expensive to produce – so how will it survive as current sources of revenue shrink? Funding Journalism in the Digital Age not only explores the current challenges, but also provides a comprehensive look at business models and strategies that could sustain the news industry as it makes the transition from print and broadcast distribution to primarily digital platforms. The authors bring widespread international journalism experience to provide a global perspective on how news organizations are evolving, investigating innovative commercial projects in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Norway, South Korea, Singapore and elsewhere.

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Pay walls versus free access, hyperlocal coverage, search engine optimization, niche content – the discussion about how the news industry will survive in the digital age grows more intense as the speed of its financial decline quickens. Is Google devil or angel? Will Amazon and other makers of electronic readers resurrect the paid subscription model for news? If they do, will they grab an unfair share of the profits? In newspapers and blog postings, at seminars and webinars, wherever journalists discuss their profession, the talk is of survival. How will journalism be funded when the business models that sustained it for centuries are crumbling? The onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, and the dramatic drop in revenue that followed, raised the level of industry turmoil as news organizations slashed staffs and budgets to cut costs. But not everything is doom and gloom – there is plenty to be optimistic about too. Advances in technology have enabled journalism to flourish in remarkable ways – from instant global distribution to community participation and more powerful storytelling techniques. And there are already instances where readers have shown they are prepared to pay for digital news content. It’s worth remembering too that despite these massive upheavals in business models and technology, the centuries-old perception remains widespread that an informed public is an intrinsic social good. With these changes crowding into one another, we felt there was a critical need for a book about finding new ways to fund journalism’s key role in fostering democracy. Quinn...

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