Webinar: 3 local media innovation projects that evolve direct relationships with news consumers into direct contributions

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The first Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge grant recipients in North America are putting funding to work developing sustainable business models, diversifying revenue streams, and increasing audience engagement.

In this series of webinars from Local Media Association and Google News Initiative, grant recipients will provide details of how they approach innovative projects with new ideas in the industry, the success they’ve seen so far, and lessons for other local media.

Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. ET

Leaders from three news projects supported by the GNI Innovation Challenge — VTDigger, #ThisisTucson, and MuckRock — have built unique initiatives to cultivate deep and lasting reader relationships and facilitate reader revenue. Moderated by Benjamin Shaw, manager of Google Innovation Challenges, recipients will share what they’ve learned about the value of audience engagement, user experience, and loyalty, as well as how these projects contribute to local news sustainability at their organizations and elsewhere. 


VT Digger’s Enhanced Membership Appeals plugin
Nonprofit news outlet VTDigger has developed an Enhanced Membership Appeals plugin to enhance existing membership and better target site users. VTDigger successfully raised $11,000 in a targeted one-week campaign using its Innovation Challenge-funded plugin. In early 2021, other news organizations can begin adopting the plugin to target readers based on their specific email interest groups and track the percentage of users who convert or reject an offer on any individual modal. Read more about the project. Panelist: Anne Galloway, Editor, VTDigger.org and Executive Director, Vermont Journalism Trust


#ThisIsTucson membership model from Arizona Daily Star

#ThisIsTucson —  a digital vertical of the Arizona Daily Star that serves more than 200,000 engaged local residents a month  — launched its membership program four days before COVID-19 lockdowns froze many operations statewide. And yet, the project has demonstrated a new, sustainable revenue stream for local news, bringing in $10,000 in digital revenue per month, profits from merchandise, and hundreds of members averaging contributions of $10 per month. Lessons from #ThisIsTucson’s strategy geared toward engaging female millennials are shared companywide. Read more about the project. Panelist: Irene McKisson, General Manager of Niche Audience Development


MuckRock’s BackerTap crowdsourcing tool

Built on the idea of topic-specific membership programs, MuckRock has launched BackerTap to give news organizations’ most passionate and loyal readers a chance to support and contribute to reporting. While paywalls and advertising are generally a one-size-fits-all solution, BackerTap helps grow audience, heighten loyalty, and create direct relationships with readers interested in contributing both time to investigations and financially. Read more about the project. Panelist: Michael Morisy, Founder & Executive Director, MuckRock

Join us for the webinar!

3 local media innovation projects that evolve direct relationships with news consumers into direct contributions