At the recent European NEWS Media Forum organised by the European Commission, panelist Joanna Krawczyk from Gazeta Wyborcza stressed : ‘Financial independence [in media] means editorial independence’. During the same event, that tackled the Business Transformation of NEWS, the spotlight was on the inspiring success stories from all over the EU media that shared experiences of financial struggle and resilience.
Nonetheless, the financing of the European NEWS Media should not be left to the creative ways of single professionals devoted to their mission. Even Commissioner Breton acknowledged that ‘As online platforms were growing, the traditional news media sector, which includes the printed and online press, radio, and audiovisual services, has been increasingly under pressure. […] the overall revenues of online competitors increased by over 20%.’ The Commissioner also reflected on the impact of the new consumption patterns and how ‘This means that revenue models have to change if we want to seize new opportunities to monetise content online.’
While many media have been transitioning towards direct revenues through membership and subscription-based models, and in some cases even direct calls for donations, some publishers are also joining forces to test common online advertising platforms. ‘These can prove to be viable alternatives to retain both revenues and data’ mentioned Commissioner Breton. Four stories of the Stars4Media Second Edition initiatives below show how they are navigating this ever-lasting struggle for revenue diversification and transparent funding.
”The move towards privacy is threatening advertising revenues that sustain media organisations in the open web, shifting even more brands spend towards social platforms.”, says Mattia Fosci from ID WARD. The project “Monetizing audiences in a cookieless world” is a collaboration between ID Ward, Spain and Network N, from the UK. “This initiative empowers independent media owners to better understand and monetise their audiences in the new, privacy-first web. Using the technology developed by ID Ward, it demonstrates how a user-centric approach to data can enrich and extend publisher audiences in ways never before possible, protecting and leveraging their most precious asset to get higher yields. Furthermore, the initiative creates a premium marketplace that connects publishers with privacy-conscious advertisers to deliver incremental revenues from day one.” says Mattia.
For Thomas Seymat from EURONEWS, the key to revenue diversification is in knowledge sharing. This is even ingrained in the title of the project – “Building sustainable revenue models with community-centric media training”. “With the support of Stars4Media, our project [collaboration between EURONEWS, EURACTIV Poland, and FATHM, UK,] will help the involved media organisations diversify their revenue streams by building media training programmes as ‘out-of-the-box’ commercial ventures”, explains Thomas, adding: “These community-centric trainings will target both journalists — a way for media to monetise their internal expertise — and non-journalist audiences — around topics such as media literacy, fighting disinformation, etc. with social impact in mind.”
The spirit of sharing is reflected in the initiative of Paloma Scharfausen from Compromiso Empresarial. With the name ‘A force for good and a force for growth’ the initiative aims to, in Paloma’s words, “[…] become the first successful Constructive & Solutions online magazine in the Spanish Market.” In collaboration with partners from the UK, Innovation Media Consulting Group, the two Spanish organizations Compromiso Empresarial and Instituto de Periodismo Constructivo, are currently working on the prototype. “The project is still very much internal”, says Paloma, “we are learning on how to write constructive journalism articles and how to convert our currently free mag into a non-free one. Before ending the project we’ll have a new segment created.”
Novinářský klub Jindřicha Oppera, z.s. (CZ) and Misflits (BE) are collaborating on an initiative called “Small independent local/regional newsroom cooperating cross border – developing a business model based on membership” . The initiative leader, Lucie Sykorova explains: “We are both [partners, op.a] developing strategy for sustainable financing of our newsrooms”. “[…] we already made the research on different membership models and tools for crowdsourcing of topics. […] We just began to implement the membership software on ourwebsites Apel.cz and Misflits.eu. We believe this is the best way for us to communicate with our audience and engage them in our in-depth local stories. We also started to prepare a first cross border story idea together by preliminary research in both of our countries.’
For all the beneficiaries, the supporting role of the Stars4Media is clear – business and innovation are equally relevant in creating a self-sustainable media environment. As summarised by Paloma: ‘We believe our objective is at the core of Stars4Media, as it combines the need for a different and more valuable perspective to present reality together with a business oriented mindset. ’
This article is part of a series of articles aiming to promote the Stars4Media Second Edition Beneficiaries. Discover the full list of beneficiaries and their area of media innovations. Learn more about the first macro-theme presented Constructive Journalism and the innovations tackling the topic here, and Data & Constructive Journalism here.