Webinar: How 3 local news organizations – Lookout Local, The Beacon, and Bay Area News Group – are building experiences that yield consumer revenue

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Watch the recording | Lookout Local slides | The Beacon slides | Bay Area News Group slides

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, Dec. 9, 2020 | 11 a.m. EST / 8 a.m. PST

Leaders from three local news projects supported by the GNI Innovation Challenge — Lookout Santa Cruz, Bay Area News Group and The Beacon — share what they’ve learned from audience development and user experience initiatives geared toward consumer revenue. 

Jed Williams


Ken Doctor


Recently launched in Santa Cruz, Lookout Local has embarked to connect two big dots in the development of local news media for the 2020s: reader revenue through membership and authentic digital and physical connection with those most involved in civic life. Membership sales are fundamental to new local news growth. Sold individually, they can work well with considerable effort on the part of the publisher. Augmenting single sales with group sales — through earned, ongoing relationships with civic groups — will accelerate membership adoption and improve retention.  Panelists: Ken Doctor, founder and publisher, and Jed Williams, chief revenue officer


The Beacon, based in Kansas City, launched in 2020, focusing on in-depth journalism in Kansas and Missouri. It’s the first of its kind in the region to focus on a nonprofit news membership model outside of public radio/TV. This project has helped define and engage a unique audience for long-term sustainability, identify and build relationships with other civic engagement players, and create a forum for discussion of news and engagement with the audience.Panelist: Kelsey Ryan, founder and publisher.


The Bay Area News Group project resulted in a premium user experience for the most engaged, loyal subscribers that includes an ad-free news website, location-specific content recommendations, improved commenting and engagement tools, and exclusive access to live events with our journalists. The premium subscription tier doubles down on local news discovery and community building and provides a VIP experience that goes beyond just unlimited online access to our great journalism, and has resulted in an additional $12,000 to $15,000 in revenue.  Panelist: Ryan Nakashima, product manager of digital subscriptions, Bay Area News Group, a MediaNews Group subsidiary. 

Moderated by Sarah Hartley, recipients and applicants manager for Google News Initiative Innovation Challenges, the webinar offers insight into subscriber and membership acquisition strategy at these leading news organizations.  

Join us for the webinar!

Webinar: How 3 local news organizations are building experiences that yield consumer revenue