2
0
1
9

Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

“The model of a one-size-fits-all paywall can work at a national level, but for local sites, a more crafty approach will have to take hold.”

In the next year or so, I expect to see more experimentation around how to drive reader revenue — particularly as it relates to the local news space.

The model of a one-size-fits-all paywall can work at a national level, but for local sites, a more crafty approach will have to take hold.

While part of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford this year, I spent time diving into different ideas around developing a conversion funnel and trying to better understand what makes readers pull out their credit card to support journalism. With a hard paywall being such a flashing red stoplight to users (not to mention an irritant), how can we ever hope to make someone feel good about subscribing?

In Boise, I am trying out an approach that asks for membership without cutting off public access to content. Instead, members are invited to receive a bundle of benefits — including a daily newsletter that includes stories that will be publicly posted tomorrow. While breaking news will still go live immediately, this “time wall” approach allows for members of our business-focused content to get a tangible perk while keeping the paywall down.

Another effort, Subscribe With Google, could give more local sites the ability to tap into the search giant’s pool of customers with pre-saved credit card information. Cutting down friction and making it easier for users to make a payment is a key way to help boost the number of paying subscribers. (Apple, are you listening?) It’s one of several components of the Google News Initiative that seem genuinely targeted at helping publishers of all types out of the spiral of recent years.

With guidance and research from the Membership Puzzle, Table Stakes, and other efforts, the local online ecosystem could be healthier in a year — with more reader revenue supporting strong quality journalism.

Don Day is publisher of BoiseDev.

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Hossein Derakhshan   The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Simon Galperin   After capitalism’s fire, journalism’s secondary succession

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Kjerstin Thorson   Time to get mad about information inequality (again)

Amy King   We should listen to the kids (especially on Instagram)

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Millie Tran   There is no magic — you’ve got this

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Seth C. Lewis   The gap between journalism and research is too wide

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

james Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

Matt Waite   “I went to Node.js because I wished to live deliberately”

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Jennifer Dargan   You don’t build diversity through one-off training sessions

Heather Chaplin   Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Sarah Stonbely   Mapping the local news ecosystem — with scale but detail

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Jenée Desmond-Harris   It finally sinks in that some people aren’t white

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Rebecca Lee Sanchez   We are all actors in the running rampant of political theater

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Umbreen Bhatti   The story doesn’t end for the people we quote

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Matt Karolian   Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Mike Isaac   The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Carrie Brown-Smith   Advocating a healthy civic life is no journalistic crime

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Alexandra Borchardt   Newsrooms need to build trust with their journalists, not just the audience

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Jesse Holcomb   We’ll get better at making the case for local journalism

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Stephanie Edgerly   It’s time to understand the un-audience

Adam B. Ellick   Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Tyler Fisher   This is journalism’s do-or-die moment

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Glyn Mottershead and Martin Chorley   When a tech company pulls the plug on your story

Jonathan Stray   More algorithmic accountability reporting, and a lot of it will be meh

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Frank Mungeam   Tonight at 11: News, sports, and climate change

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Tshepo Tshabalala   Ahead of African elections, unlock partnerships with fact-checkers

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Manoush Zomorodi   Tech will do for information overload what it did for mindfulness

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Claire Wardle   Forget deepfakes: Misinformation is showing up in our most personal online spaces

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Frank Chimero   Leave the phone at home and put news on your wrist

Cindy Royal   For journalism curriculum to change, its faculty needs disruption

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   A more sincere definition of “community”

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Zainab Khan   Publishers whose products can stand up to social media giants will win

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Pia Frey   You can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Tushar Banerjee   Interactive ads will be the new face of display advertising

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Raney Aronson-Rath   We learn “digital” doesn’t have to mean “short”

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Local news isn’t where you thought it was

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Angilee Shah   The year news orgs say “yes” to real leaders

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

An Xiao Mina   The death of consensus, not the death of truth

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Efrat Nechushtai   Journalism wants to be your friend, not your teacher

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Mike Rispoli and Craig Aaron   Government funds local news — and that’s a good thing

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Cristi Hegranes   A year to invest in the security of local journalists

Whitney Phillips   Our information systems aren’t broken — they’re working as intended

Alyssa Zeisler   We expand what (and how and who) we serve

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Elisabeth Goodridge   Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Steve Myers   From trying to cover it all to covering what matters

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Hearken   Pivot to people

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Axie Navas   The traffic hunt, CMS battle, and magazine identity crises loom

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work