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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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14 Into the future

Extract

The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating

– John Schaar, political theorist

The news business is undergoing turmoil and uncertainty as it makes the transformation into the digital age. Yet there is reason to be optimistic about the future. Interest in accurate and timely news and analysis is stronger than ever. Advances in technology have enabled journalism to flourish in remarkable ways – from instant global distribution to community participation to more powerful storytelling techniques. And the widespread perception remains that an informed public is necessary to uphold democracy. The problem still left unsolved, however, is how journalism will be funded. Traditional business models and methods have become outdated, but it is not clear what will replace them. Advertising will remain the single most important source of revenue for the news industry. But as we explored in previous chapters, the advertising business model for news organizations has been permanently undercut by increased competition online, free advertising sites for classified ads and dramatically lower rates for digital advertising compared with print. Throughout this book we have examined new commercial models beyond advertising and in some cases, new ways to attract advertisers. Some of these new models may flourish, some will fail.

Ultimately, we believe, news organizations will rely on a combination of revenue sources. Each news provider will employ models that are particularly well-suited to their own style of journalism. It will be impossible to apply a one-size-fits-all commercial...

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