Just like any other industry, journalism needs to make money, but what are the best ways to do it while maintaining a professional and ethical product?
There really is no one best way to be successful in the journalism industry because what works for a large news organization might not work for independent news outlets or individual journalists.
Bigger organizations can depend on subscribers and their billionaire owners to make enough money to keep the lights on, but local papers and individual journalists might not have that luxury.
Local outlets might find success by being nonprofit and continue to work hard producing important journalism for their community. More than 200 newsrooms are part of the Institute for Nonprofit News including ProPublica, Texas Tribune, Center for Investigative Reporting and many national and local news outlets.
Going nonprofit might be the best decision for smaller organizations just starting out and that need access to resources they may not have the funds for just yet. They also won’t feel the same pressure if a billionaire with an agenda purchases the outlet or having to pay back venture capital or private equity investments.
Another important thing news organizations need to consider to stay afloat is the type of content they produce.
There is a trend of reporting on niche topics for a specific audience and it might give new journalists a different platform to showcase their work; however, it might take time to make any sort of profit.
A small news outlet that caters to niche content will never overthrow the big organization like The New York Times or Washington Post, but their targeted audience will most likely be loyal and willing to support the work if it’s good.
Large organizations or other outlets wanting to expand their audience should consider utilizing the technology of today to succeed in the digital age. Emailed newsletters are a great way to start. Some could be free, while others might be a bonus for paid subscriptions and add-ons.
Podcast shows are also popular and engage a larger audience and outlets can create deals and incentives for paid subscribers, like access to special podcasts or a sneak peek at an episode earlier than the official public release date.
Whatever method a news organization decides to go with to gain an audience, paid subscribers and hopefully a profit, they must remain ethical in their work. Journalists should not exploit themselves and their work in order to make a quick buck.