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2020
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7

The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

“The decentralization of online discourse makes broad public knowledge more difficult, but the opportunity to educate interested readers in specific subjects is brighter than ever.”

You’ve probably already heard of single-subject newsrooms by now, even if you didn’t recognize them as a category: News Deeply, Inside Climate News, New Food Economy, The Trace. There are countless new single-subject outlets launching every year.

As single-subject publications and sites find their footing, their unique funding needs and methods of audience engagement will shape how publisher-platforms like Google News and Facebook build distribution for news.

The benefits of single subject newsrooms for journalists include developing deeper sources and a stronger position in the beat, which can often lead to opportunities to partner with mainstream outlets. For publishers, it’s easier to look to the nonprofit space for models and funding, and there are numerous opportunities to develop staff in a focused way.

The challenges including facing the risk of fundraising outside of a niche audience. Finding financial backing outside of membership programs requires addressing the constant pressure to service political interest groups who want to align themselves with relevant coverage.

The decentralization of social media also poses existential risks for single-subject newsrooms, just as it does general news outlets. And most platforms where people find news, like social media networks, seem to be built for general audiences, not niche ones. Productizing news channels takes time and effort that a small newsroom may find overwhelming.

The decentralization of online discourse makes broad public knowledge more difficult, but the opportunity to educate interested readers in specific subjects is brighter than ever.

Margarita Noriega is the editor of a forthcoming online magazine covering technology and culture for Glitch.

You’ve probably already heard of single-subject newsrooms by now, even if you didn’t recognize them as a category: News Deeply, Inside Climate News, New Food Economy, The Trace. There are countless new single-subject outlets launching every year.

As single-subject publications and sites find their footing, their unique funding needs and methods of audience engagement will shape how publisher-platforms like Google News and Facebook build distribution for news.

The benefits of single subject newsrooms for journalists include developing deeper sources and a stronger position in the beat, which can often lead to opportunities to partner with mainstream outlets. For publishers, it’s easier to look to the nonprofit space for models and funding, and there are numerous opportunities to develop staff in a focused way.

The challenges including facing the risk of fundraising outside of a niche audience. Finding financial backing outside of membership programs requires addressing the constant pressure to service political interest groups who want to align themselves with relevant coverage.

The decentralization of social media also poses existential risks for single-subject newsrooms, just as it does general news outlets. And most platforms where people find news, like social media networks, seem to be built for general audiences, not niche ones. Productizing news channels takes time and effort that a small newsroom may find overwhelming.

The decentralization of online discourse makes broad public knowledge more difficult, but the opportunity to educate interested readers in specific subjects is brighter than ever.

Margarita Noriega is the editor of a forthcoming online magazine covering technology and culture for Glitch.

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