The bundle gets bundled

“If American Express can offer their users a one-year subscription to the Calm app, why not a one-year subscription to The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, or your local McClatchy paper?”

Do you know how many digital subscriptions you have? When’s the last time you scanned your credit card statement? As recurring charges pile up, it’s easy to miss one of the biggest subscription costs out there: your credit card itself.

For one annual fee, many credit cards wrap up incentives to keep your spend with Chase, American Express, or Citi. Those “incentives” are expanding rapidly. Chase added DoorDash, Lyft, and Peloton credits to some cards this year. American Express is expanding its deal with Uber and Soulcycle/Equinox. And that’s before you get to co-branded cards that carry loyalty to a particular hotel chain, airline, or bank.

With each new product and adjustment to old ones, credit card companies are building their own bundles, nudging customers to a set of select brands, many of which have higher Net Promoter Scores than their own.

My prediction: Credit card companies will add a news subscription to their mega-bundles. If American Express can offer their users a one-year subscription to the Calm app, why not a one-year subscription to The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, or your local McClatchy paper?

What’s in it for news publishers? A ton of new leads, complete with credit card numbers and email addresses on file. Most companies look at partnerships like this as a marketing cost: Hook some new subscribers for a period of time at a discount, and once the incentive goes away, some percentage of users will stay on. No doubt the first few attempts will be aimed mostly at determining the quality of the leads and how to position them among existing subscribers.

The strike against such a prediction is that credit card companies may not want to be seen as playing news favorites in an era of political polarization. Many publishers also aren’t set up technically to onboard new subscribers in bulk like this. And, of course, some publishers may not like being the fourth bullet point behind DoorDash, Lyft, and Peloton in a marketing email.

While my prediction is tilted toward bigger spenders with fancier cards and high annual fees, a partnership should also explicitly include those with lower-tier cards, no credit, and those who are unbanked. Given the public service mission of many publications — and the not-great track record of many credit card companies in serving low-income Americans — there’s just as much of an opportunity to get high-quality, factual information in front of those who can least afford it.

Ryan Kellett is senior director of audience at The Washington Post.

Do you know how many digital subscriptions you have? When’s the last time you scanned your credit card statement? As recurring charges pile up, it’s easy to miss one of the biggest subscription costs out there: your credit card itself.

For one annual fee, many credit cards wrap up incentives to keep your spend with Chase, American Express, or Citi. Those “incentives” are expanding rapidly. Chase added DoorDash, Lyft, and Peloton credits to some cards this year. American Express is expanding its deal with Uber and Soulcycle/Equinox. And that’s before you get to co-branded cards that carry loyalty to a particular hotel chain, airline, or bank.

With each new product and adjustment to old ones, credit card companies are building their own bundles, nudging customers to a set of select brands, many of which have higher Net Promoter Scores than their own.

My prediction: Credit card companies will add a news subscription to their mega-bundles. If American Express can offer their users a one-year subscription to the Calm app, why not a one-year subscription to The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, or your local McClatchy paper?

What’s in it for news publishers? A ton of new leads, complete with credit card numbers and email addresses on file. Most companies look at partnerships like this as a marketing cost: Hook some new subscribers for a period of time at a discount, and once the incentive goes away, some percentage of users will stay on. No doubt the first few attempts will be aimed mostly at determining the quality of the leads and how to position them among existing subscribers.

The strike against such a prediction is that credit card companies may not want to be seen as playing news favorites in an era of political polarization. Many publishers also aren’t set up technically to onboard new subscribers in bulk like this. And, of course, some publishers may not like being the fourth bullet point behind DoorDash, Lyft, and Peloton in a marketing email.

While my prediction is tilted toward bigger spenders with fancier cards and high annual fees, a partnership should also explicitly include those with lower-tier cards, no credit, and those who are unbanked. Given the public service mission of many publications — and the not-great track record of many credit card companies in serving low-income Americans — there’s just as much of an opportunity to get high-quality, factual information in front of those who can least afford it.

Ryan Kellett is senior director of audience at The Washington Post.

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

María Sánchez Díez   Traffic will plummet — and it’ll be ok

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

Laura E. Davis   The focus turns to newsroom leaders for lasting change

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

Cory Haik   Be essential

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

Richard J. Tofel   Less on politics, more on how government works (or doesn’t)

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

Joshua Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Matt DeRienzo   Citizen truth brigades steer us back toward reality

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Aaron Foley   Diversity gains haven’t shown up in local news

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

An Xiao Mina   2020 isn’t a black swan — it’s a yellow canary

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

Sam Ford   We’ll find better ways to archive our work

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

Ariane Bernard   Going solo is still only a path for the few

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

L. Gordon Crovitz   Common law will finally apply to the Internet

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   The download, podcasting’s metric king, gets dethroned

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Sumi Aggarwal   News literacy programs aren’t child’s play

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

Stefanie Murray and Anthony Advincula   Expect to see more translations and non-English content

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

Alfred Hermida and Oscar Westlund   The virus ups data journalism’s game

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Bill Adair   The future of fact-checking is all about structured data

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Marcus Mabry   News orgs adapt to a post-Trump world (with Trump still in it)

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

Jennifer Brandel   A sneak peak at power mapping, 2073’s top innovation

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Ben Collins   We need to learn how to talk to (and about) accidental conspiracists

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

Tanya Cordrey   Declining trust forces publishers to claim (or disclaim) values

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

Nikki Usher   Don’t expect an antitrust dividend for the media

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

Candis Callison   Calling it a crisis isn’t enough (if it ever was)

Francesca Tripodi   Don’t expect breaking up Google and Facebook to solve our information woes

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists will be kinder to each other — and to themselves

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

Sue Cross   A global consensus around the kind of news we need to save

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

Rishad Patel   From direct-to-consumer to direct-to-believers

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

Benjamin Toff   Beltway reporting gets normal again, for better and for worse

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

Ashton Lattimore   Remote work helps level the playing field in an insular industry

Kate Myers   My son will join every Zoom call in our industry

Patrick Butler   Covid-19 reporting has prepared us for cross-border collaboration

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting dodged a bullet in 2020, but 2021 will be harder

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

james Wahutu   Journalists still wrongly think the U.S. is different

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

C.W. Anderson   Journalism changed under Trump — will it keep changing under Biden?

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

Shaydanay Urbani and Nancy Watzman   Local collaboration is key to slowing misinformation

Mike Caulfield   2021’s misinformation will look a lot like 2020’s (and 2019’s, and…)

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

Raney Aronson-Rath   To get past information divides, we need to understand them first

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and Cassie Haynes   A shift from conversation to action

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

Julia B. Chan and Kim Bui   Millennials are ready to run things

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

Astead W. Herndon   The Trump-sized window of the media caring about race closes again

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

Annie Rudd   Newsrooms grow less comfortable with the “view from above”

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter