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The Economics of Investigative Journalism: What Price is Right?

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Advertising has always subsidized the cost of investigative journalism -- also called accountability journalism -- so the price that people would be willing to pay for this costly and valuable service has never been established in the marketplace. Now that price is being negotiated by all the players in the digital world -- the publishers, the public, and government policy makers.

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The Economics of Investigative Journalism: What Price is Right?

  1. 1. The economics of accountability journalism: What price is right? James Breiner, Universidad de Navarra, Spain @jamesbreiner
  2. 2. 20 years as reporter, business editor, head of investigative team
  3. 3. 11 years on the dark side, publisher of a business weekly
  4. 4. Dominant duo 7 •56% of mobile advertising globally •40% of digital advertising globally
  5. 5. “What you think you know about the Web is wrong.” – Tony Haile CEO of Chartbeat • Of 2 billion visits to hundreds of sites, 55% lasted less than 15 seconds
  6. 6. Few spend more than 2 minutes a day
  7. 7. Aargh! 10 • Piracy (aggregators) • Bots, click fraud • Ad blockers
  8. 8. ROI: Billions in taxes recovered, fines levied
  9. 9. ‘Radical sharing’ •Lone wolf journalists share their data, help each other •Media organizations work together, across borders, across cultures
  10. 10. Graphic: Figures are euros per capita. From Nielsen & Linnebank (p. 16).
  11. 11. Distributed content • Facebook Instant Articles • Google Accelerated Mobile Pages • Snapchat Discover • Instagram • Apple News • Etc. + Faster load times for pages + Gives publishers some money + Extends the reach of publishers - Dilutes importance of their website
  12. 12. Go for scale, eyeballs, CPMs like BuzzFeed Or for engagement, relationships like Texas Trib
  13. 13. 17 •14,500 ‘partners’ pay $66 a year • Value proposition is “editorial independence” • $800,000 a year, 1/3 of budget • Less than 1% of audience • 54 employees Relationships, not eyeballs “Journalism in spite of it everything”
  14. 14. •Launched in Holland in 2013 •Initial crowdfunding $1.7 million •40,000 subscribers pay $66/yr •No ads, value prop. “editorial independence” •14 full-time journalists, 22 correspondents
  15. 15. •Launched in 1999 by two journalists •published in Tamil, Chinese, Malay, English •9 million visitors a month •16,000 subscribers pay $40 for English version
  16. 16. Expenses of senators, congress •10 Harleys for senators •Syndicated to major media
  17. 17. Should you charge for online news? 21
  18. 18. •Pay wall service merged with Tinypass •1,200 news media on four continents • $40 million in revenues for Piano in 2015
  19. 19. What am I paying for, exactly?
  20. 20. 24 •iTunes for news •600,000 users in Germany Holland •Pitch in U.S.: ‘no ads, no clickbait’ •$3.3 million from Axel Springer, NYT
  21. 21. Who pays for accountability journalism and how much? • Public subsidies- BBC, Nordic countries • Non-profits, grants - local media, public radio • Relationship model - Texas Trib, MinnPost, eldiario.es • Subscription model - De Correspondent, Malaysiakini • Paywalls - bundled digital and print (survival) • Blendle - iTunes for news
  22. 22. Let’s continue the conversation in Pamplona. Come visit James Breiner, Universidad de Navarra, Spain @jamesbreiner jamesbreiner@gmail.com

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