#49 — Bootstrapping a media company gives you focus
Welcome back to Publisher Weekly and thanks for being a subscriber. We enjoy consuming all of the latest stories and handpicking them for this newsletter, with a focus on emerging business models in the media and publishing. Let us know what you're enjoying and what you'd like to see more of - hit reply to chat!
Here's your roundup for the week 👉
💯 Top picks
Morning Brew's Austin Rief: Bootstrapping a media company gives you focus [Podcast]
The Digiday Podcast catches up with the co-founder of a sustainable and profitable email-first media business, Morning Brew. Give yourself 26 minutes to listen to Austin's thoughts on business models, competing with big media and building a subscription business with few resources.
💸 Business models
Newspaper paywalls slowly increasing, but online news is still mostly free
A new study by Reuters Institute challenges the fears about paywalls limiting access to online news. They found that more than two-thirds of leading newspapers in Europe and the US are operating a paywall of some description, but hard paywalls that completely restrict access are rare.
The full study surveyed media in 7 countries and goes into detail about the average costs for paywalled news. Many charts - lots of data!
How to engage with your audience - lessons from a failed subscription newsletter
Co-workers at Greeley Tribune, Colorado were tasked to launch and grow a paid newsletter called The Playbook, covering rural prep sports in Northern Colorado. It failed to meet expectations after 5 months, so it was canned. Here’s what they learnt in the process!
What gets readers hooked onto your writing? [Podcast]
“In an ideal world, every piece of journalistic writing would be compelling, sharp and immersive. But in reality, it is all too easy to churn out templated stories that get hardly read past the first paragraph.”
The Times continues keeps growing digital-only subscribers (and ad revenue)
First quarter earnings for the NYT were posted this week and they exceeded expectations with a net income of $30.2 million, 223,000 new digital subscriptions and 19% growth in digital advertising revenue.
Find out what readers want first – then turn it into a subscription product!
Other than record first quarter growth, the New York Times are also expanding into other verticals as a way to test the waters and find out what their audience want, before launching new subscription products. They did this with cooking, next up: parenting
✍️ Modern journalism
The newspaper company CEO pay game — heads I win, tails I win
“Million-dollar payouts common to news CEOs despite layoffs, cutbacks and stagnant salaries on the ground.”
In news industry, a stark divide between haves and have-nots
“Local newspapers are failing to make the digital transition larger players did — and are in danger of vanishing.”
Mapping the battleground for the next information war
“For journalists, this era of information warfare presents both a personal and an existential threat. It also presents a myriad of new questions about how the rules and ethics applied to journalism should change.”
What type of content does well on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google?
Axios dig into what type of content does best on each social network, and a growing trend for media companies shifting to more niche channels for distribution.
Publishers love getting affiliate revenue from their reviews. So is it okay for Amazon to pay to get more of those reviews upfront?
“This might be a rare instance of the goals of a platform genuinely aligning with the goals of a publisher — or another case of publishers’ revenue streams being at the mercy of a tech company’s priorities.”
How ethical is it for advertisers to target your mood?
ESPN and the New York Times are exploring how to match marketing to their users’ emotions - Emily Bell dives into the ethical considerations.