Submojour Report: 2.6 Italy: An unfinished transition

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Nicola Bruno

  • Rather than competing with legacy media players, startups are carving out roles to become their allies, as in the UK.
  • A very small staff that works both in content production and in new business seems to be the most efficient.
  • Very low operating costs that mostly cover personnel costs and, to a lesser extent, research and development are the norm. This includes work that is organised to take advantage of partnerships with outside companies for specific skills (graphics, design, programming).
  • Several have taken the decision not to use advertising to finance their editorial initiatives, as in France.
  • Startups are working on the development of high value-added products that may be of interest to both media and non-media companies.
  • There are highly diversified sources of revenue that range from providing content to training, special products and organisation of events.
  • The journalistic startup scene is potentially thwarted by retardedness in Internet penetration, particularly compared to other European countries.
  • The cases included: Formica Blu, China Files, Effecinque, Varese News, News 3.0, YouReporter and FpS Media.

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Submojour Report: 2.7 Spain: Enthusiasm and fragility

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Luchino Sívori

  • Spanish entrepreneurial journalism is varied: different kinds of journalism take place in distinctive types of more or less sustainable business models.
  • The main trends, however, still confirm a weak and somehow irregular market: funding is not strong and stable yet, and mainstream media still dominates sales and audiences.
  • Entrepreneurial thinking in online journalism is popular and promising, but not yet a “comfortable place” to work nor a sure investment for the future.
  • Primary barriers for startups include internationalization, high competition, low switching costs, high levels of unemployment, fragile support from public administrations and too many professionals for too few jobs.
  • The business model is still evolving and as an overall ‘startup’ industry it has yet to take shape.
  • The cases included: China Files, Mangas Verdes, Portal Parados.

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Submojour Report: 2.8. Finland: Legacy dominates

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Esa Sirkkunen 

  • The Finnish media market has strong newspaper and print media production for mass markets, strong public broadcasting, and a high level of public support in the media field in general.
  • Most of the Finnish online journalism is not economically sustainable as such.
  • Mainstream media remains dominant in news production. Finnish pure players have been daunted by taking on legacy media organisations.
  • There is a lack of innovative news journalism outlets As formerly in France, the Finnish system demands less VAT from traditional media than the pure players operating solely on the web.
  • The Finnish pure players have so far based their operations mostly on display advertisement although they all seem to strive for finding new revenue sources.
  • Business to business operations may offer opportunities to start supplying content or services to the mainstream media. The next generation of Finnish pure-players have to be more innovative, because of increased competition in this field.
  • The cases included: Asymco, Urheiluviikko, Arcticstartup, Hellapoliisi, Jatkoaika, Ampparit, Tilannehuone, Rantapallo, Uusi Suomi, Afterdawn, Stara Media.

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Submojour Report: 3. Revenue sources

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Clare Cook and Esa Sirkkunen

In this chapter we identify and curate the findings of the SuBMoJour project in terms of the different revenue sources being used across the startup case studies. The database can be searched comprehensively according to revenue streams, such as the advertising models, content models, revenue per year, revenue streams, selling products, staff size or content etc. By presenting the commonality in revenue streams, it has been possible to identify trends in order to better shape an understanding of sustainability for media startups.

The aim of the project was not to find one single revenue model but rather list a variety of different models and try to find common traits among them and see what kind of business models the journalistic pure players are using. This focus hopes to offer a better understanding of the possibilities for sustainability both now and in the future. It is a timely question when the tools that have made content creation so ubiquitous have had such a destructive effect on the business of journalism. Almost every media manager worldwide is still asking one core question: how can the media companies maintain and increase profits in a socially networked and abundant landscape?

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Submojour Report: 4. Sustaining journalistic entrepreneurship

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Pekka Pekkala and Clare Cook

Structural change in the media ecology has opened up a range of opportunities for startups, as this report has detailed. Media entrepreneurs have flexed their muscles creating all manner of new sites, products and services in the journalism ecology. Many have launched blogs or niche interest sites, forums or digital communities; others trade on civic, investigative or citizen journalism; others on technology and production. This chapter recognizes the valid addition of these sites to the potential career path of a journalist and the increasing likelihood for journalists to work within, create or alongside such journalistic entities. Where once innovation and change happened slowly, current media technologies are developing continually and the rate of product development has increased exponentially.

As part of the interview process to create the SuBMoJour database, researchers had the opportunity to discuss with media managers about the range of skills required to sustain journalistic entrepreneurship. Not all interviewees participated in these discussions. However, the interviews were free enough to allow for subjective information to be solicited where possible as to the journey experienced towards sustainability.

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Submojour Report: 5. Conclusions

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Clare Cook, Esa Sirkkunen and Pekka Pekkala

The SuBMoJour study has mapped journalistic startups in nine countries. It has created an online database detailing the business models of journalistic startups that are deemed sustainable (www.SuBMoJour.net) and this accompanying narrative report. The study supports research to date that online environments offer the necessary market characteristics for niche journalistic sites and content production. There is a rich and diverse set of media case studies in the database, all with their unique interpretation of serving communities or reportage. The study was carried out across 12 months with a team of international researchers.

Where it was hard to evidence entirely new revenue sources, it was however possible to find new ways in which revenue sources have been combined or reconfigured. Most of the 69 case studies have diversified their income to include more than one revenue source. As such, there is potential innovation in new business models by way of combining revenue sources in new and interesting ways to make their sites profitable in the long term. Some sites, particularly those born to support products, which were very much of the net, have rebundled or recombined revenue streams in relatively innovative ways.

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Case Study: Lichfield Community Media (LCM) (UK)

The name of the publication and / or company

Lichfield Community Media (LCM)

Established

2009

Web Address

lichfieldlive.co.uk

Form of the company

Community interest company

Describe your site or business in few words.

Philip John, web developer, internet consultant: “LCM started as Lichfield Blog three years ago. Later on the name was changed to Lichfield Live. Recently LCM launched also Burntwood Live. (Lichfield and Burntwood are major towns in Lichfield District, in Staffordshire, which is home to about 97 000 people.)”

Philip John also runs his own web business, Journal Local, which offers a WordPress platform designed especially hyperlocal websites.

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Case Study: Hackney Citizen (UK)

The name of the publication and / or company

Hackney Citizen

Established

2007

Web Address

hackneycitizen.co.uk

Form of the company

2 limited companies: the publisher is Citizen Media Ltd and the trader is Hackney Citizen Ltd

Describe your site or business in few words.

Keith Magnum, editor-in-chief: “We publish an independent free monthly newspaper called Hackney Citizen and run a website by the same name. We distribute 10 000 copies around Hackney, a borough of North East London, in shops and cafés.

We’ve been monthly since July 2010. Before that we published quarterly, since July 2008. Initially, the website was just a holding page, probably for the first year, until about 2009 when we begun doing more frequent news online. Before that, we didn’t know about WordPress or the whole online hyperlocal scene in the UK. So it was a bit weird to suddenly find ourselves a part of it!

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Case Study: ScraperWiki (UK)

The name of the publication and / or company

ScraperWiki

Established

2009

Web Address

scraperwiki.com

Form of the company

Limited company

Describe your site or business in few words.

Aine McGuire, CMO: “Scraperwiki is a place where a community of coders and data scientists congregate to sift data. it’s also a data hub, a place for collection of information into a database and turning it into a form that people can use. Our business is ‘software as a service’.

We have a web-based platform where programmers write scripts to get, clean and analyse data sets. They can simply schedule code to run automatically, and they can reuse the structured data with our flexible API. We also have a data request service, which enables businesses to work with our data scientists and extract value from data. They can see their data being created, control access to it, and download the resulting spreadsheets.

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