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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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12 Building the news business through innovation



Innovation drives modern economies. But before innovation can happen in the news media, editorial managers need to foster environments that welcome it. Media companies are some of the least innovative organizations in the world because they have often been unwilling to risk failure, a precursor to innovation. This chapter will look initially at the role of innovation in improving the business models at news organizations, and how they can inculcate innovation and creativity. It will then provide examples of innovative practices in media companies around the world.

Juan Senor, a director of the Innovation International media consulting company, offers one primary piece of advice to media houses: “Innovate or die.” Senor said the essentials of journalism had not changed, but the business model had. Jim Brady, former executive editor of, believes that insufficient risk-taking occurred at newspapers. “We’ve done things a certain way for so long that change comes at too slow a pace,” he said in a Q&A on the Poynter web site in 2009, arguing that the speed of experimentation needed to increase. “Launching blogs in 2009 isn’t innovative anymore.” All web newsrooms needed to devote resources to forward-looking experimentation. “If all your resources are focused on putting out today’s site, tomorrow is going to sneak up quickly on you.”

Meanwhile in Washington, National Public Radio CEO Vivian Schiller, in a keynote address at a conference about the future of news in March 2009, admitted the news industry...

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