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True Genius: How to go from “the future of journalism” to a fire sale in a few short years
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July 14, 2014, 3:36 p.m.
Business Models
LINK: news-biz.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   July 14, 2014

Just five months after opening up its Data Store — which sells some of the big datasets its reporters produce for stories and projects — ProPublica says it’s generated “well over” $30,000 in new revenue. That figure comes from ProPublica president Richard Tofel in an interview with Southern Methodist University journalism professor Jake Batsell. Since they opened up shop in February, Tofel says more than 500 data sets have been downloaded.

“The 500 downloads, that’s probably more important from a mission standpoint,” Tofel told me. But those who have paid for the premium sets — so far, mostly companies and consultants from the medical industry — may well become repeat customers down the road, when it’s time to update the data. “I think we would consider it a successful experiment in that sense,” he said.

The Data Store serves several purposes for ProPublica, as a means of providing new life to the information they’ve collected and as a potential new source of revenue. That $30,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the annual grants and contributions ProPublica receives each year. But it’s $30,000 ProPublica didn’t have before, and, as Tofel told me back in February, the broader goal of the store is making more data publicly available.

Here’s ProPublica data reporter Ryann Grochowski Jones on the store — “Our databases are a finished product”:

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