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Under stress but seeing their work resonate, local news orgs are experimenting through the pandemic
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June 22, 2015, 12:35 p.m.
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LINK: www.minnpost.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   June 22, 2015

Minnesota’s nonprofit news outlet MinnPost hopes to show that membership has its privileges. Starting tomorrow, the site is launching MinnPost+, a new tier of “bonus content” only available to people who have donated $60 or more in a year.

What do you get for your money? MinnPost publisher Andrew Wallmeyer writes:

Initially, MinnPost+ will consist of two weekly features: MinnPost Picks, which shares reading recommendations from MinnPost staff; and From Other Nonprofit Media, which showcases select work from other nonprofit news sites around the nation.

That’s the first phase of the plan, with more to come. One additional benefit to MinnPost+ members will be a less transactional reading experience: Wallmeyer says members who choose to sign in on the site will see fewer popups asking them to donate.

MinnPost’s plan comes as the concept of membership continues to spread throughout the world of media. For nonprofits in particular, the notion of membership is a chance to redefine the relationship between a publisher and the people formerly known as readers.

MinnPost+ is similar in structure to Slate’s Slate Plus and Times Premier from The New York Times. The idea behind all three is to offer users a hint of special access, a glimpse behind the scenes of how reporters and editors work and what they read. Here at the Lab, we’re fans of the Times Insider blog, which offers some insight on the inner workings of the Times newsroom.

Last year, the Knight Foundation awarded a grant to Voice of San Diego and MinnPost to improve the systems they use to manage membership. MinnPost+ appears to be one strategy for getting more readers to register with the site, as Wallmeyer points out the benefits of creating an account include commenting on stories and email newsletter management. The plan, whether you are a nonprofit or a for-profit, is still the same: Put as many readers on the path to payment as possible. MinnPost wants to get more people through the door, and they hope bonus content will push that along. Wallmeyer:

Our ultimate goal, of course, is to increase membership revenue, which will in turn enable us to produce more high-quality journalism for people who care about Minnesota — the sole reason our non-profit organization exists.

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