News, renewed: Towards a sustainable business model for online journalism
The News, Renewed project was established to pursue the following core objectives: 1) To identify the most promising business model for funding online journalism, through academic research. 2) To enable implementation of the most promising monetisation strategy, through the development of a technology enterprise. From March to April 2014, Alex Clark conducted an online survey completed by 416 consumers, assessing willingness to pay for ten online monetisation strategies. Strategies assessed include: payment-per-article, a payment-to-remove advertising, crowdfunding, donations, a mobile application, a ‘freemium’ model (charging only for premium content), a standalone subscription to a single news website, a national package of all news websites in New Zealand, a global package of all news websites in the world, as well as a multimedia package containing news, music, television and movies. Survey data revealed that strategies embracing global bundling were most popular with respondents. While only one respondent (0.24%) said they would ‘definitely’ pay for a standalone subscription at $10 per month (NZD), 23 respondents (5.4%) said they’d definitely pay for a global news package, and 46 (10.8%) said they’d definitely pay for a news and multimedia package. Consumer preference for global bundling remained strong when viewing survey data through other analytical lenses, such as an aggregate of ‘probably’ and ‘definitely’ responses, as well as estimated conversion rates calculated using Predicted Purchase Intent values. Upon completion of the survey, Alex worked with two developers to create PressPass, a platform focused on enabling the implementation of a bundling strategy by the journalism community. Once a prototype had been developed, Alex met with leading news organisations within New Zealand and the USA to share his findings and seek feedback about his proposed solution. In New Zealand, he met with NZME, TVNZ and MediaWorks. In the USA, he met with the New York Times, The Economist and National Geographic. The News, Renewed thesis analyses the qualitative and quantitative findings from Alex’s consumer survey, while also providing qualitative insights from his interviews with industry leaders. The thesis has been submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Advanced Technology Enterprise at Victoria University of Wellington.