Asking for help pays off

“It takes courage, vulnerability and a bit of education to help readers understand the true cost of producing public service journalism.”

In the year of continued unknowns, journalists once again found themselves on the frontlines of fighting misinformation and providing crucial facts to the public. All year long, I’ve seen newsrooms of all sizes and in all communities deliver quality reporting to the people who need it most.

However, when the demand for trusted journalism remains higher than ever, newsrooms are fighting a different type of battle — one for their own survival. The path to financial sustainability is steep and long, so finding shortcuts and new tricks can be appealing but also distracting. That’s not to say experimenting with new revenue-generating ideas isn’t important, but sometimes the best thing you can do is go back to the basics and just ask for help from the people who appreciate your work the most.

Through my work with the News Revenue Hub and the national NewsMatch campaign, I have had the honor of coaching hundreds of news organizations across the country with their fundraising strategies and year-end campaigns. I’ll let you in on a secret: The single piece of advice I give, time and time again, is to just ask readers for support. This simple premise has helped our 70-plus newsroom clients raise over $42 million in 5 years. At an even greater scale, NewsMatch participants have raised over $150 million in the same amount of time.

Resources and funding continue to coalesce around this concept — something that I hope to see more of in coming years. Foundations around the country have joined the Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund and others in making multi-year investments in NewsMatch. Regional matching campaigns and collaboratives have taken off in Colorado and New Mexico.

I know it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes courage, vulnerability and a bit of education to help readers understand the true cost of producing public service journalism. But when communities acknowledge and invest in this effort, a virtuous cycle is created: It becomes easier to raise money, newsrooms expand and more people have access to responsible journalism.

Christina Shih is senior vice president of business development at the News Revenue Hub.

In the year of continued unknowns, journalists once again found themselves on the frontlines of fighting misinformation and providing crucial facts to the public. All year long, I’ve seen newsrooms of all sizes and in all communities deliver quality reporting to the people who need it most.

However, when the demand for trusted journalism remains higher than ever, newsrooms are fighting a different type of battle — one for their own survival. The path to financial sustainability is steep and long, so finding shortcuts and new tricks can be appealing but also distracting. That’s not to say experimenting with new revenue-generating ideas isn’t important, but sometimes the best thing you can do is go back to the basics and just ask for help from the people who appreciate your work the most.

Through my work with the News Revenue Hub and the national NewsMatch campaign, I have had the honor of coaching hundreds of news organizations across the country with their fundraising strategies and year-end campaigns. I’ll let you in on a secret: The single piece of advice I give, time and time again, is to just ask readers for support. This simple premise has helped our 70-plus newsroom clients raise over $42 million in 5 years. At an even greater scale, NewsMatch participants have raised over $150 million in the same amount of time.

Resources and funding continue to coalesce around this concept — something that I hope to see more of in coming years. Foundations around the country have joined the Knight Foundation, Democracy Fund and others in making multi-year investments in NewsMatch. Regional matching campaigns and collaboratives have taken off in Colorado and New Mexico.

I know it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes courage, vulnerability and a bit of education to help readers understand the true cost of producing public service journalism. But when communities acknowledge and invest in this effort, a virtuous cycle is created: It becomes easier to raise money, newsrooms expand and more people have access to responsible journalism.

Christina Shih is senior vice president of business development at the News Revenue Hub.

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