The Startup Newsroom: Lessons From the Single-Subject News Project: #newsrev briefing


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Briefing by Kristin Nolan and Lara Setrakian, Tow Fellows at Columbia University, delivered at the Digital News Revenue Summit hosted by The Texas Tribune and Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, April 3, 2014.

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The Startup Newsroom: Lessons From the Single-Subject News Project: #newsrev briefing

  1. 1. The Startup Newsroom: Lessons from the Single- Subject News Project Lara Setrakian and Kristin Nolan Tow Center for Digital Journalism @hypertopical #nichenews
  2. 2. News Deeply is an award-winning new media and technology company that fuses news, information, technology and digital design. Our vision is to simplify the user experience of complex information, creating information products that serve a mix of media, enterprise and institutional clients. The News Deeply platform provides a single-subject design, allowing clients to capture complex issues in a simple, unified dashboard, with a highly engaging user interface design. @hypertopical #nichenews About Us: News Deeply
  3. 3. @hypertopical #nichenews The Deeply Model Geographies EXAMPLES Myanmar Deeply Congo Deeply Egypt Deeply Strategic Issues EXAMPLES Oceans Deeply Poverty Deeply Disarmament Deeply Science, Technology, & Public Health EXAMPLES Alzheimer’s Deeply Brain Deeply Robotics Deeply Our First Platform: Syria Deeply Syria Deeply was a crisis reporting project that incorporated the latest technological tools of the day, all to track an ongoing conflict. The aim was to improve the art of storytelling with user-centric design. Our Next Project: Arctic Deeply With our partner, the World Policy Institute, we are incubating Arctic Deeply, an exploration of an issue that effects the planet and all people on it. The Arctic story is a bell-weather for climate change and its human impact.
  4. 4. Three Rising Trends: •  Hypertopical Publishing •  Niche/Vertical News •  The Journalist-Entrepreneur
  5. 5. Skills Required: A Fusion of Toolkits Editorial Talent •  Integrity •  Eye for the Story •  Subject Matter Mastery Entrepreneurial Talent •  “Lean Startup” Methodology •  Management Skills •  Project Management Skills •  Financial Literacy •  Technology Literacy •  Sales Capacity •  Operational Grit @hypertopical #nichenews
  6. 6. Who We’re Talking About Our study captured a wide variety of single-subject news sites covering specialized beats, from arts & culture to geographical issues to science. @hypertopical #nichenews
  7. 7. Common Cause: Shared Motives and Execution Strategies The majority of single-subject news sites are attempting to fill a gap in mainstream media coverage while providing and maintaining specialized knowledge. “What I noticed with these outlets [entrepreneurial start ups] were that they were still an insider’s game…entrepreneurs that aren’t plugged into the scene are ignored…” -Brian Kovalesky, StartUp Beat @hypertopical #nichenews
  8. 8. Contrasting Models: Target Audience, Structural Setup, and Major Media Ties TARGET AUDIENCE Audiences are niche, many sites exhibited different approaches for accessing them STRUCTURAL SETUP Single-subject sites come in a lot of shapes, forms and sizes MAJOR MEDIA TIES Some of our case study sites were housed inside of or allied with a major media outlet @hypertopical #nichenews
  9. 9. @hypertopical #nichenews Shared Emphasis on Engagement and Impact Single subject websites value engagement and impact over traffic. We’re not showing traffic numbers as evidence of our impact. We’re pointing to things like our Reuters collaboration and we developed others as we went along to show how we were impacting the conversation [on climate change]. We found a way to have an impact on the conversation without having to build a giant website with huge traffic. It’s very expensive and difficult to do. So we found high-impact, low-cost solutions for doing our work. That was attractive to funders. -David Sassoon, InsideClimate News
  10. 10. Seed Funded Bootstrapping Like any Startup, They’re Either… @hypertopical #nichenews …and they’re all looking for revenue.
  11. 11. Diversified Revenue Streams For the most part, single-subject sites seek alternative revenue streams Foundations Merchandising Live Events Direct Sponsorship Earned Revenue/ External Projects @hypertopical #nichenews Corporate Subscriptions Market/Job Boards Crowdfunding “Free-mium” Paywalls
  12. 12. @hypertopical #nichenews Startup Funding Map
  13. 13. What They’re NOT Doing for Money 
 @hypertopical #nichenews Traditional Advertising Content Syndication
  14. 14. What’s Holding Them Back? @hypertopical #nichenews Startup Management Skills Marketing/ User Acquisition Technology Skills
  15. 15. So How Did They Do? @hypertopical #nichenews
  16. 16. @hypertopical #nichenews Traffic
  17. 17. •  Peak return rate was 60%; mean was 39%. •  Event drivers followed major new events or special events within the niche. •  Between peaks, single-subject sites identify their “super user”— the die-hard readers of their topic, the community they serve and monetize. Engagement Statistics @hypertopical #nichenews
  18. 18. The industry is following us around. This season, for the first time ever, ESPN has a reporter assigned to every single NFL team. So they have 32 beat writers, and they never had that before. And that’s something we’ve had since the beginning… That’s the innovation. -  King Kaufman, Bleacher Report @hypertopical #nichenews