Note — May 05, 2019

Want to See What One Digital Future for Newspapers Looks Like? Look at The Guardian, Which Isn’t Losing Money Anymore

Seen in → No.78

Source → niemanlab.org/2019/05/want-to-see-what-one-...

Joshua Benton at Nieman labs looks at some of the numbers of the Guardian and various other papers as the former finally makes some money—after twenty years of losing it. Perhaps the most interesting bit of this achievement; they made it without a paywall, “simply” with voluntary membership, which is pretty fantastic and closely related to Tim Carmody’s idea of Unlocking the commons, which Sentiers and many other newsletters and miscellaneous media also use. Benton closes with three lessons: Have an identity. Remember that people’s financial relationship with a publication isn’t purely transactional. Just ask.

Our unique ownership model means we are not controlled by a billionaire owner, or a group of shareholders demanding financial returns — any profits made, and all financial contributions from readers, are reinvested directly into our journalism. […]

Perhaps the most amazing number of all: Only 8 percent of Guardian revenue now comes from print advertising — which for literal centuries was the bedrock of the newspaper business model. […]

Becoming majority digital means you can think of print the way you probably should in 2019: a high-end product, still appealing to a very loyal set of subscribers, that is fundamentally a reshaping of digital output — not the other way around. There’s still money in print, but it can’t be your guiding light anymore. […]

In the past year, more than 300,000 people gave one-off contributions — but more importantly, 365,000 are now on an automatic recurring plan.