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Monetize Restaurant Reviews

How to Monetize Restaurant Reviews

Check out these top strategies to monetize restaurant reviews.

Texans love good food, so it was only natural for the most well-known city magazine in Dallas, D Magazine, to dig into the local restaurant scene with reviews, guides, and stories about top chefs and notable openings. Like other top publishers, D Magazine has been able to monetize restaurant reviews and use its coverage of the local dining scene to keep readers on its website for longer.

For digital publishers, restaurant reviews can mean big bucks, particularly when content is properly harnessed and utilized in strategic ways. Here’s how to monetize restaurant reviews, based on the strategies used by some of the top publishers in the business.

5 Ways to Monetize Restaurant Reviews

1. Display Advertising

The first step in being able to monetize restaurant reviews is to sell display advertising alongside reviews and other dining content. Publishers have the option to sell their own advertising or to work with a larger ad server, like Google Ad Manager.

(Check out this list of the best ad servers for publishers.)

Selling ad space through a platform like Google is generally the easiest and fastest way for a publisher to monetize restaurant reviews, however there is more money to be made by selling display advertising space to businesses directly. Restaurants, especially local restaurants in the surrounding area, will pay a premium to have their ads run alongside restaurant reviews.

2. Sponsored Reviews

Publishers can charge restaurants a blanket fee to publish their own content, whether that’s a review or an article, under a “Sponsored Content” heading. Sponsored restaurant reviews can been tricky to navigate as a publisher, however most publications are comfortable running this type of content so long as the applicable disclaimers are posted.

The best place to start, as you look for restaurants that would be interested in paying to sponsor a review, is with your current advertising roster. Call up the businesses who run display advertising on your website and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring a restaurant review. Obviously, restaurants are most likely to be interested in this type of content, but businesses that cater to restaurant customers—for example, movie theaters or cooking supply stores—might also be interested in this type of advertising deal.

To connect with larger restaurant brands about sponsored reviews, check out online networks like Foodie Blogroll and FoodBuzz.

3. Online Directories

Top publishers are creating their own online restaurant directories, and then making money by selling advertising in their directories and offering paid directory listings.

Using the restaurant reviews you’ve already published, you can quickly populate a local restaurant directory. In addition to basic information—like the name, address, and phone number of each restaurant in town—your directory listings should include links to any reviews or other articles that have been published on your website.

4. Guides & E-Books

Being able to monetize restaurant reviews is really about finding as many ways to make money off the content as possible. So far, we’ve talked about selling display advertising alongside the reviews, using the reviews to populate online restaurant directories, and now we’ll get into the art of packaging restaurant reviews to publish in city guides and e-books.

People visiting your city, or people who have an interest in the restaurant scene, will pay for books with information about all of that city’s top dining establishments. It doesn’t even matter if most of the content in your e-book is already available online for free. The real value in a city dining guide is that the information is packaged in an easily-digestible way, so readers can quickly flip through and find information about any restaurant they’re thinking about visiting.

Whether these guides are in printed or in electronic form is up to you. The easiest way to get started is typically by using a service like KDP by Amazon, however you can also check out services like Lulu and Smashwords to publish and distribute books in electronic format.

5. Members-Only Access

Lots of news publications have paywalls up, requiring readers to subscribe before they can access certain types of content or sections of the website. Digital publishers who are interested in new ways to monetize restaurant reviews can place paywalls around their dining sections.

In addition to offering basic website subscriptions, larger publishers can offer dining section-only subscriptions, so readers who have a vested interest in the local dining scene can access reviews and other dining information without paying for the full price of a regular subscription.

The amount you charge for access to your website’s restaurant reviews or dining section is dependent on how much content you have and how much your readers are willing to pay. In most cases, we wouldn’t recommend charging more than $5 or $10 per month for access.

If you’d like advice on how to monetize restaurant reviews in your own publication, we’d love to help.

editorial mission statement

How to Create an Editorial Mission Statement

Here is what digital publishers should know about how—and why—to create an editorial mission statement.

The Washington Post has one. So does the Los Angeles Times, and virtually every other major newspaper in the country. But you don’t have to run a national media organization to create an editorial mission statement. Publishers of all sizes, both online and offline, stand to benefit when they memorialize what they stand for and believe in as a company.

Beyond just covering the news, publications have values that their employees subscribe to. When publishers can be open and forthcoming about those values, they improve their relationships both internally (with editors and reporters) and externally (with readers).

Editorial mission statements can help editors as they choose which stories to cover, and they can clarify any guidelines or policies that reporters should understand as they go about interviewing subjects for articles. They can also help to clarify what type of organization a reader is giving his or her money to when deciding whether to subscribe.

What Is an Editorial Mission Statement?

Before you can get to work creating an editorial mission statement, it helps if you know what one actually entails.

An editorial mission statement can be simple and straight to the point, or it can be deeper and more abstract. For a look at what that means, let’s use these two examples:

First, we have an example of an editorial mission statement that gets straight to the point. This is from the Florence News Journal.

“The News Journal is a weekly newspaper providing news, advertising and information to enrich the lives of the people in the Florence area. Committed to the community, we offer a voice for the people, promote events, recognize achievements and present information in a fair and accurate manner. We desire to be a trusted source of local information and advertising content that is useful and valuable to the readers we serve.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum we have an example from the Los Angeles Times. The Times’ mission statement is 10 paragraphs long, but this small section is reflective of the larger theme, which reflects the basic principles of journalism.

“Freedom is our core value. We feel a special obligation to defend civil liberties and human rights. Because newspapers and other news media, uniquely among businesses, enjoy and rely on a provision of the Bill of Rights that protects freedom of the press, we assume an obligation to defend the rights of all citizens.”

Digital publishers can be as straightforward as they want. There is no right or wrong way to create a mission statement, just as long as it reflects the values of the organization.

Reasons to Create an Editorial Mission Statement

We know that news publications cover important events, but how do publishers, editors, and reporters decide which events are worthy of coverage? An editorial mission statement can offer the answer.

While larger publishers, including the Los Angeles Times, have editorial mission statements that broadly describe the principles of journalism, local publishers are often much more direct. Their mission statements are more likely to include details about the topics they cover.

Having a mission statement that’s published openly on the web gives readers a way to understand which news stories receive coverage and which do not. The more specific a publisher can be, the better. We’ve seen publishers use their mission statements as a place to define the geographic areas they cover and the specific topics will write about. (For example, a digital publisher might exclusively cover high school football news in Austin, Texas.) When readers can see the criteria for inclusion, they are less likely to be upset when topics or events they care about don’t make the cut.

6 Topics to Include in an Editorial Mission Statement

Now that we’ve covered what an editorial mission statement is, and why publications should have them, let’s get into the details about what to include if you’re creating one from scratch.

  1. What geographic areas does your publication cover?
  2. Which topics do you write about?
  3. Which values does your publication hold dear?
  4. What are the principles that guide your publication’s editorial decisions?
  5. Does your publication see the world through a particular lens?
  6. Do you have any reporting guidelines regarding victim or reader sensitivities?

An editorial mission statement can be one sentence, one paragraph, or one page long. Keep in mind that the longer the statement is, the less impact each sentence will have and the less likely people will read the statement in its entirety.

A growing number of digital publishers are creating separate diversity mission statements, as well, which are designed to sit alongside their editorial mission statements. Diversity mission statements highlight the ways the publisher is working toward getting different voices into the publication.

Does your publication have an editorial mission statement? If so, what does it include?

Digital Publishing Trends 2019

5 Trends to Watch in Digital Publishing

Innovation. Innovation. Innovation. That’s what’s going on in the digital publishing industry right now. As publishers look for new monetization strategies, they are transforming the way readers digest content on both desktop and mobile devices.

With a sharper focus on their digital products, publishers big and small are developing smarter production strategies based on what their readers need and using data to test and innovate in the space.

Here are five of the biggest trends to watch in digital publishing this year.

#1: Publishers Are Experimenting Like Crazy
With nothing left to lose, executives in the digital publishing space are getting creative in the ways they target advertisers and cater to evolving reader demands. At the Minneapolis Star Tribune, editors have started experimenting with using calendar invites to remind readers about important dates related to upcoming elections. The publisher has started sharing important stories via calendar invites, as well. That sort of creative experimentation is necessary if media outlets want to stay ahead of the curve in this environment. Digital-first publications have even more freedom to push the limits of what’s possible, leaning on mobile apps and big data to reach audiences and refine their content selections in more targeted ways.

#2: Newsrooms Are Collaborating More Than Ever Before
In a bid to help bolster local news organizations, and fill the void in “news deserts” around the country, more digital publications are teaming up on projects. These collaborations run the gamut from simply aggregating datasets and sharing the resulting data, to actually working together on in-depth articles through online platforms like Slack and video chat.

One organization that’s trying to keep the momentum going with this trend is Big Local News. As part of the Stanford Journalism and Democracy Initiative, Big Local News is processing governmental data and then partnering with local newsrooms across the country to use the data in articles about housing, health, and education.

No two collaborations are exactly alike, but the result is almost always an article or content package that’s greater and more significant than what an individual publication could have produced on its own.

#3: Google News As a Bigger Referral Source
It’s been nearly a year since Google announced that it was replacing its Google Play Newsstand and the Google News & Weather apps with an entirely new app, called Google News. Since then, we’ve seen referral traffic dropping from certain social media platforms. (For example, traffic to publisher websites from Twitter has dropped by 18% since January 2017.) Other platforms that are becoming bigger referral sources to digital publishing sites include Instagram and Flipboard. Flipboard, in particular, has seen as dramatic increase in referral traffic in the past year and a half.

#4: Triggers Are Being Used to Convert Subscribers
Prevailing wisdom used to tell us that readers would convert to subscribers when they realized the value of the publications they enjoy. Must-read articles, original photographs, and even access to subscribers-only benefits, like forums, commenting, and live events were all assumed to be the reason why readers decided to subscribe. What we’ve seen in the past few years, however, is that there needs to be a trigger that publishers can release in order to push readers over the edge and make them want to convert. Email newsletters, exit intent popups, and push notifications are three popular triggers that we’re seeing publishers using right now in a bid to convert casual readers into paying subscribers.

#5: Reader Interests Are Informing the Content
It’s a chicken or the egg situation. Do the interests of readers inform the content that digital publications put out, or does the publication make readers care about certain topics through attention-grabbing content packages? Large publishers like the New York Times are asking readers to fill out forms that include details like their political leanings, interests, and occupations in a bid to better understand their audiences. We’re betting that smaller, digital publishing outlets will get in on this trend in the coming year, as well, in a bid to better include readers’ experiences in their local news coverage. Basic reader polls and questionnaires give publishers insights into what kinds of stories their readers might be interested in seeing, and whether any readers would be good sources for stories on particular topics or organizations.

Apple News Publishers

Could Apple News Be the Answer to Publishing Woes? Think Again.

Remember when Apple News first launched, and publishers were giddy with optimism? Apple News was supposed to be the answer to capturing engaged audiences and driving ad revenue for local news publishers.

In a February 2018 survey, almost 30% of respondents said publishers should prioritize Apple News in the new year. But today, just one year later, much of that optimism has faded.

With 90 million regular users, and nearly 70 million monthly unique users, Apple News can be viewed as a success in a lot of ways. Although some publishers say referral traffic from the news aggregation app has fallen flat, others are seeing positive growth. Being featured in the Top News widget in Apple News can be a boom for a digital publisher, driving significant traffic volume.

Apple News’s content recirculation widget is also a hit among publishers. The widget recommends stories to users and serves as an excellent referral source for publishers. For some media outlets, Apple News has become a more important source of traffic than Facebook or Twitter, particularly since Facebook’s algorithm change.

So what’s the problem?

Despite some positives, publishers right now have a decidedly negative outlook on Apple News. Many of the complaints stem back to four main issues:

  1. Trouble selling Apple News inventory directly
  2. Limited user targeting
  3. Slow to let in outside measurement companies
  4. sIncompatibility with publishers’ current sales strategies

Although publishers on Apple News have been able to sell their own inventory, doing so is rare and it isn’t necessarily easy. Publishers have inventory on their own websites to sell, first and foremost, along with all of the social media platforms they distribute on. Add that to the complaints listed above, and publishers have started to view Apple News as a burden more than a blessing.

The age of Apple News’ audience has also become an issue. Digital publishers are always looking for new ways to capture younger audiences—the types of audiences that advertisers love—but Apple News’ audience tends to skew older.

When you combine dismal ad fill rates with limited user targeting, that restricts publishers from using third-party data or IP addresses, you make it harder for publishers to sell ads.

Most inventory in Apple News these days is sold by NBCUniversal, bringing in a CPM of $3 to $4. That’s a reasonable rate for remnant inventory, but it’s not the basis for a sustainable publishing business. It also happens to be lower than what publishers can get through Facebook Instant Articles or Google’s AMP format.

Rather than relying on Apple News exclusively, we’re seeing more digital publishers use Apple News as a value-add for their biggest advertising campaigns. Certain advertisers are eager to capture in-app audiences, and these advertisers will jump at the opportunity.

Another way that publishers are making the best out of the situation is by using Apple News to push their subscriptions and membership programs.

With subscription programs on the rise among consumers, publishers are finding that they can distribute content through Apple News and push new readers who arrive at their websites to subscribe for more content. Readers who arrive through Apple News can subscribe with the tap of a finger, using preloaded credit cards already stored in their iPhones, which eliminates many of the barriers or obstacles that decrease conversions among digital news subscribers.

Revenue from subscription sales driven by Apple News referrals can’t rival what large publishers were initially hoping to generate through ad inventory, particularly once the company’s 30% cut of subscriptions it helps sell is taken into account, but it’s a step in the right direction and it’s better than nothing.

What about value that’s not tied to revenue? Some publishers are using Apple News to drive views and downloads of add-on services and products, like podcasts and videos on-demand. Publishers are also working on ways to convert readers from Apple’s news aggregator into email newsletter subscribers.

What has your experience with Apple News been like? Have you found a way to generate value from the platform? If you’ve got ideas for how to monetize Apple’s news aggregator, we’d love to hear them.

Data Journalism

The Latest Trends in Data Journalism — What Digital Publishers Should Know

When launching a new data journalism project, consider these trends and the strategies news reporters and editors are using to expand the way they cover events and publish content on the web.

Data journalism has taken a number of steps forward in the past decade, but 2019 is set to be the year that innovation and collaboration between digital news outlets really takes hold.

We’re less than two months in to 2019, and already a number of news publishers have announced new data journalism initiatives. For example, the Associated Press announced in January that it is using data journalism to help bolster local news outlets. Using funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the AP is growing its data team and increasing data distribution to local newsrooms.

The AP’s use of data journalism inside local newsrooms is just one point in some larger trends we’re seeing throughout the industry. Here’s a peak at what’s really going on.

Data Journalism Trends in 2019

Publishers are turning to automation to facilitate large-scale projects.
Manual research can be too time consuming for an individual reporter, or even a team of reporters, depending on the project. With automation, news reporters can query individuals and conduct high-level research without dealing with the most mundane elements of the project.

For example, Bayerischer Rundfunk and SPIEGEL, in Germany, put ample resources into a story about discrimination in the German rental market. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to interview thousands of rental tenants about their experiences, so reporters turned to automation. Journalists sent 20,000 applications to roughly 7,000 apartment advertisements and then analyzed their responses.

Artificial intelligence is making work easier for reporters.
In the past, data journalism has been thought of as a complicated endeavor that requires extensive time, knowledge, and skill on the part of reporters and editors. In 2019, artificial intelligence (AI) will finally reach the point where its use in newsrooms is seamless.

While AI technology used to generate news stories has been available for some time—the Washington Post’s Arc project and Quartz AI Studio both come to mind—data journalism platforms are being designed in a way that makes the technology easy enough for everyone in the newsroom to use. Machine-generated stories will finally free up reporters’ time. Achievable AI projects will take precedence, as reporters use AI to manage story tips, track incoming data sources, and keep published stories up-to-date on the web.

Publishers are developing their own data journalism tools.
Frustrated by the limitations in what’s currently on the market, large media organizations are spending more on the development of their own data journalism tools. Although some of these tools are for internal use, a growing number of publishers are opening up access to other media organizations, as well. For example, the AP has seen 1,400 downloads from 300 local newsrooms on its data.world platform, which catalogs data and serves as a type of social networking website for data teams. Another example is the RADAR (Reporters And Data And Robots) project, which came out of a collaboration between the UK Press Association and the London-based startup Urbs Media.

You can read about some of the other data journalism tools publishers are using in this guide.

More digital publishers are collaborating.
Data journalism projects can be expensive, given the resources involved in these types of large-scale initiatives. One way that digital publishers are managing these costs is by partnering with other publishers. The nature of these collaborations can vary. In some cases, publishers are simply sharing the financial costs. In other situations, publishers might be dedicating a certain number of reporters or editors to the collaborative project. These reporters and editors are working cohesively in an online environment to put together the puzzle pieces involved and create a final product that both publications can be proud of.

Data skills will become a non-negotiable for digital reporters.
Can you imagine a reporter who couldn’t email or use a telephone? Basic data skills are on their way to becoming non-negotiable for reporters and editors in the digital publishing industry. As this happens, the field of data journalism will morph into simply journalism, as data-driven stories becomes a part of every newsroom and data visualizations are published alongside nearly all stories to bring information to life.

Interested in learning how other digital publishers are planning to use data in 2019? We’ve got the information, and we’d love to chat.

local news automation

Can Local News Automation Save Digital Publishing?

Digital news publishers need content, and to produce that content they need reporters. But staff reporters don’t come cheap, making local news publishing a challenging business to be in right now. Could local news automation be the solution that digital publishers have been looking for? The answer depends on who you ask.

For the companies creating the latest class of local news automation solutions, the answer is a firm yes. Technology vendors are leveraging openly available government datasets and artificial intelligence tools to help digital news reporters quickly construct locally focused stories.

The Reporters And Data And Robots project, known as RADAR, is one example of a solution that relies on data-driven templates with fragments of text and ‘if-this-then-that’ rules, designed to translate data into location-specific news stories.

For example, an article written with a RADAR template might begin with a paragraph like this:

“U.S. Department of Transportation records show that [NUMBER] people were killed and [NUMBER] people seriously injured on [CITY]’s roads in 2017.”

The template can easy be adapted based on the location, with the number of accidents and the city name going straight into the text.

RADAR’s in-house team of data journalists brainstorm new angles and storylines for the project, and then puts basic information into each story to give it some local context. In RADAR’s project, local news automation is considered a “production assistant,” quickly adapting basic text in the template to localize individual stories. Reporters and editors working for digital publications can still adapt stories to make them more relevant to local readers.

With a solution like this, just think of the possibilities.

When Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post back in 2013, local news automation was still in its infancy. Since that time, his newspaper has become a leader in the space. In 2016, The Washington Post debuted its own news bot — Heliograf. Heliograf is considered to be one of most sophisticated uses of artificial intelligence in news writing to date.

Heliograf can auto-publish stories about basic news events, like Olympics coverage and political election updates, but it does require some handholding from human editors.

Editors using Heliograf must write templates for stories, making sure to include phrases that account for different potential outcomes. Then they connect Heliograf to a reputable data source. (In an election, that might be a data website like VoteSmart.org.) The software identifies relevant data, matches it with the phrases in the template, and publishes the article across multiple platforms. If Heliograf finds any anomalies in the data, the bot will notify reporters, so they can investigate and potentially update the article.

While it might seem like Heliograf requires a lot of handholding, the bot is actually capable of generating a huge number of articles about local topics. For example, Heliograf could churn out articles about the results of every local election race in a state in an instant, as soon as the results are released. Compare that to the length of time it would take a reporter to manually put together the information and publish it to the web, and you can see why local news automation is such a fascinating space for digital publishers.

Heliograf is available to clients of Arc Publishing, which is a digital platform and suite of publishing tools built by The Washington Post. However, it’s not the only local news automation solution available to publishers today.

Let’s look at some other popular options for publishers interested in local news automation.

Wordsmith
Wordsmith, by Automated Insights, is a natural language platform that turns data into narratives. The self-service platform allows for total customization of the content it’s creating, along with real-time updates, and an API for larger publishers that need a bit more flexibility. Wordsmith can be setup to create stories out of nearly any type of dataset, including earnings releases.

Quill
Using a similar method to produce stories as Wordsmith, Quill relies on datasets and algorithms to generate local articles for newsrooms around the country. For an example of how the platform can be used, check out ProPublica’s investigation into the U.S. Department of Education. ProPublica used automation tools to generate individual narratives for each of the 52,000 schools in the U.S. Department of Education’s database.

MediaCentral | Newsroom Management
Another company selling news automation solutions is Avid, a media technology provider. Avid’s MediaCentral | Newsroom Management platform provides automated content indexing to help reporters find media assets from any location and ultimately turn around stories faster across multiple publishing channels. Avid’s MediaCentral | Newsroom Management platform was designed for newsrooms of all sizes, including local and regional publishers.

Have you considered using local news automation tools at your publication? If you’re interested in learning more about the latest strategies in digital publishing, and how automation fits into the equation, give us a shout.

sponsored content

What Are Advertisers Looking for from Sponsored Content?

Clicks, comments, shares — when it comes to sponsored content, any form of engagement is a positive. But as brands get more selective in deciding where to run their sponsored content, publishers are asking more questions about what their advertisers really want to see.

Sponsored content, branded content, and native advertising are all terms used to describe roughly the same thing. That is, advertisers paying for content that looks like traditional editorial content, but is actually being paid for as a way to drive traffic to the advertiser’s website.

How much traffic advertisers expect to generate from sponsored posts and videos depends on how large of an audience the publisher has and how much the advertiser is paying for the content. It can be difficult to track how much advertisers spend on sponsored content because of the way sponsored packages are sold, but it’s fair to say the practice is picking up steam.

According to a report from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, more than half (51%) of local online news sites now sell native advertising or sponsored content, as publishers across the board experiment with new advertising formats.

The controversy over sponsored content has dissipated, at least for the most part, as the practice has gone mainsanatream over the past decade. Well-known digital publishers like HuffPost, The Atlantic, and Business Insider have been running sponsored content for years. Smaller hyperlocal publications and regional publishers are finally adding sponsored content to their advertising packages, as fewer people click on banner ads and the revenue being generated by display advertising continues to decline.

What Advertisers Want from Sponsored Content

When advertisers decide where to run their sponsored content, they look at more than just the size of the publisher’s audience. Advertisers care about who the website’s visitors are, and how closely those visitors align with the targeted demographics they’re trying to reach.

Publishers who are hoping to sell advertisers on their sponsored content packages should be sure to track basic metrics, like the number of monthly website visitors, the number of times their content is “shared” each month, and the number of fans commenting on their social media posts.

Publisher should also conduct research, either via visitor surveys or using advanced analytics tools, to uncover demographic details about their audience. How old is the average visitor? Where do visitors live? Do they have pets? How much money do they make each year? Advertisers love knowing the answers to these questions, so publishers should make sure to have the data available or to publish the data publicly on their websites.

Once an advertiser decides that the publisher’s audience aligns with its own demographics, the next question is, what kind of sponsorship packages does the publisher sell?

Some smaller publishers run one-off sponsored articles, while others require a commitment of five or more articles, which get published at regular intervals for a pre-determined period of time.

Articles and blog posts aren’t the only form that sponsored content can take. At Business Insider, for example, brands can pay to sponsor slideshows that run alongside editorial content. Other publishers have found success with sponsored videos, email newsletters, and podcast episodes.

Some brands are looking to create sponsored content themselves, and others are looking for media partners who will handle the heavy lifting. Small and mid-size digital publishers will often hire freelancer writers to create sponsored content for advertisers. That sponsored content needs to be vetted by the advertiser before it goes live on the website. But that back-and-forth can sometimes gum up the process, and brand advertisers that run sponsored content on a regular basis often prefer to create articles and blog posts in-house.

Some brands have no interest in putting together their own content. These brands would rather sponsor editorial articles that involve certain themes, like technology or innovation. Rather than featuring a “Paid Post” header, these articles usually include a highlighted paragraph that lets readers know that the article is “presented” by a certain company. However, brand advertisers usually do not want to see the names of their competitors mentioned in these editorial articles.

How much latitude advertisers have when putting together their content depends on the publisher. Large publishers, like Forbes, have strict guidelines that prevent advertisers from making direct pitches to customers in their sponsored articles.

Unlike editorial content, which usually lives on a publisher’s website for eternity, sponsored content can be setup to disappear after a certain length of time. Whether that happens, or how long the content lives on the publisher’s website before it’s deleted, depends on the deal that’s struck between the brand advertiser and the publisher’s sales staff.

Here are three examples of sponsored content, to give you an idea of what’s possible when you sell sponsored content to advertisers:

BuzzFeed, “10 Lifechanging Ways To Make Your Day More Efficient”

Forbes, “Get Ahead Of Your Competition By Researching Them”

Mashable, “30 Overused Buzzwords in Digital Marketing”

Automatic Transcription Tools for Digital Newsrooms

5 Automatic Transcription Tools for Digital Newsrooms

Every minute counts in the fast-paced world of digital news publishing. Every dollar counts, too. For publishers running lean operations, automatic transcription tools are a game changer.

The best automatic transcription tools are just as accurate as manual transcribers, and they cost a lot less money. They also require less time to complete than manual transcription, which means reporters and editors can get their stores online faster and move on to the next breaking news events.

Here are our picks for five of the top automatic transcription tools for digital newsrooms.

1. Trint
Trint is often cited as one of the best automatic transcription tools for journalists, and that’s for good reason. Trint offers automated transcription of audio and video files, powered by artificial intelligence. Reporters upload files into Trint, and the service converts those files into searchable, editable interactive transcripts. These transcripts are “glued” to the audio, which makes it easy to verify the accuracy of any part of the transcript without leaving the online editor. A vocabulary builder tool provides a way for reporters to upload custom lists of words—like brand names, uncommon names, or technical terms—for Trint to learn. The service can also be setup to account for multiple accents in audio files. Trint offers a pay-as-you-go service for $15 per hour or a Basic subscription that costs $40 per month for up to three hours of uploaded content.

2. Otter
Otter bills itself as a “smart note-taking and collaboration app,” but it’s the 600 minutes of free transcription each month that digital publishers really appreciate. Otter’s transcriptions are very accurate, and for reporters with fewer than 10 hours of recorded interviews per month, the service is totally free. Interviews can be recorded on a phone or computer, or they can be imported from another service into Otter. Some things to remember: Otter transcribes captions of audio recordings within a minute, but you’ll have to wait a bit for an even more accurate version of the transcript. Heavy users of the service can “train” the app to recognize voices and learn special terminology, which improves the overall accuracy of transcripts over time. Otter’s service is available via an app and through a website.

3. Happy Scribe
While Happy Scribe’s online transcription software isn’t perfect—and the company warns users to avoid uploading files with heavy background noise or heavy accents—it’s still one of the most useful automatic transcription tools on the market today. Happy Scribe converts audio and video files into text, which can then be exported into Word, PDF, TXT, and a number of other formats. Happy Scribe doesn’t limit the size of the files that users can upload, and completed transcriptions are usually ready within minutes. Once those files are ready, text documents can be edited and collaborated on from within Happy Scribe’s Interactive Editor. One of the more unique features is “heatmap mode,” which shows where the algorithm struggled and where users might want to compare the audio recording to the finished transcript. Pay-as-you-go pricing starts at $12 per hour, and monthly subscriptions start at $30 per month for up to three hours.

4. Descript
Combining both automatic and human-powered transcription, Descript boasts incredible levels of speed and accuracy, at a much lower price point than comparable services. Reporters drop their audio files into the Descript platform, and those files are uploaded to the server and immediately transcribed. Descript grades its accuracy with each file. While most transcriptions are nearly perfect, newsrooms can pay extra for White Glove service, which promises 99% accuracy in an average of 24 hours. Once files are transcribed, reporters and editors can comment and collaborate on the documents from within Descript’s cloud-based system. Basic plans are free, with 30 minutes of transcription and pay-as-you-go transcription that costs 15¢ per minute.

5. Sonix
Powered by AI, Sonix’s automatic transcription software offers reporters a straightforward way to transcribe, organize, and search through their audio files. The web-based system works very quickly. A 30-minute audio file can be transcribed within three to four minutes. Because it’s difficult to achieve 100% accuracy with automatic transcription tools, Sonix has developed its own editing studio where users can polish their transcripts and compare them to the audio recordings. Every word that’s transcribed through Sonix is automatically indexed, so editors can refer back to specific interviews at any point in the future. Pricing for single users starts at $10 per month. Newsrooms with multiple users can sign up for subscription plans that start at $15 per user, per month.

nonprofit model for journalism

Is the Nonprofit Model Sustainable in Digital News?

With the news that BuzzFeed is laying off 15% of its staff and Gannett is cutting jobs across the country as part of a cost-saving measure, the digital publishing industry is looking for a path to survival. Many are wondering if the nonprofit model might be the long-term solution that publishers are looking for.

Dwindling digital advertising rates are often blamed for the financial challenges that digital publishers face, but with many publishers now reporting slight drops in subscriber revenue, as well, it’s becoming clear that the for-profit news industry might be really be in trouble. As the debts mount, publishers are taking a closer look at the nonprofit model for digital news, and asking themselves whether the model might actually be sustainable in the long-term.

We covered the basics of nonprofit publishing in articles last year. In the time since those articles were published, even more for-profit news organizations have adopted the nonprofit model. What does this mean for the digital publishing industry as a whole?

The nonprofit model fits well with the niche that hyperlocal news publishers have built for themselves. Since they are not beholden to advertisers, nonprofit digital publishers are free to sharpen their focus on the kind of detailed accountability reporting that really benefits their communities.

National reporting organizations like ProPublica, Mother Jones, The Associated Press, Consumer Reports, The American Spectator, and National Geographic tend to generate a great deal of buzz when people talk about the nonprofit model for news. ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Center for Investigative Reporting took in $185.4 million between 2009 and 2015, and the 20 largest nonprofit media groups amassed more than $423 million. But funding totals don’t tell the whole picture.

A number of local publishers have found great success with the nonprofit model. The Texas Tribune, Minnpost, and New Jersey Spotlight are three examples, but there are dozens more nonprofit media organizations that work to fill the gaps in local reporting that are left when daily print newspapers go out of business.

According to a study by the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), funded by the Democracy Fund and the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, single-subject news is the fastest-growing sector in nonprofit media. Hyperlocal publishers fit this bill, but so do niche digital publications that focus on specific topics or areas of interest.

Of course, building a nonprofit news publication is incredibly challenging, and there can be even more frustrations when setting up a nonprofit than a for-profit business.

For starters, publishers generally need large donations from charitable foundations or wealthy philanthropists before they can launch their nonprofit news outlets. Most of us don’t know any billionaires looking to give us millions of dollars to launch our own ventures, and winning a large grant from a national foundation is the exception, rather than the norm. All that to say, getting a nonprofit news organization off the ground can be a challenge.

Another issue that’s stymied some digital publishers is crackdown by the IRS on nonprofit news organizations. The IRS is determining whether news outlets fit the definition of “educational” institutions. Fitting that definition is a requirement for an organization that hopes to fall into that 501(c) category. Although the IRS approved hundreds of news organizations in the past, it started adopting a narrower view at the same time the nonprofit model was taking off in digital publishing.

What’s the Solution?

We all want to know which business model is going to make digital news outlets successful. Survey after survey of nonprofit news publishers show that the nonprofit model works, but it also comes with significant challenges and obstacles that publishers must overcome.

With so much funding up in the air, and with publishers unsure of which grant programs will be renewed, more nonprofit publishers are adding membership programs and soliciting donations from readers to supplement the funding they receive from foundations and wealthy philanthropists. According to the INN survey, more than half of nonprofit newsrooms have three or more revenue streams, and one-third have four or more revenue streams.

This strategy to add multiple outside funding streams, rather than relying solely on one source of funding, is one that makes sense for digital publishers. But it may also require the hiring of a professional fundraiser or development staff, which increases overall costs.

Are you interested in switching over to the nonprofit model? Our team is available to help guide you through the process. Reach out and let us know when you’re ready to learn more.

live events

Publishers Are Using Live Events to Combat Lagging Ad Sales – Here’s How

After two years of financial struggles and employee layoffs, the women’s lifestyle publisher Refinery29 is now starting to capitalize on the success of its live events to turn things around. Here’s how the company is growing its pop-up series, and how other digital publishers can turn live events into a reliable source of revenue.

Like so many other digital lifestyle publishers, Refinery29 has struggled to grow in a tough ad climate. Rather than focusing on subscriptions and reader membership programs, Refinery29 is looking to live events as a way to generate revenue outside of online advertising.

Although Refinery29 has been hosting live events since 2015, the company recently announced that it is growing its pop-up series—dubbed 29Rooms—and expanding into international locations. The move comes at a time when Refinery29 is looking to grow its non-advertising revenue. Thirty-percent of Refinery29’s revenue comes from sources outside of digital advertising, including ticket sales for 29Rooms and other related events, but that figure could be much higher in the future.

Refinery29 isn’t the only digital publishing company looking to expand its live events programming as they decrease their reliance on other forms of online advertising. A number of popular magazines, including Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure, and Wired, are leveraging live events in the same way.

Let’s take a closer look at what these publishers, and others, are doing right and how they are making their live events successful.

Maximizing Ticket Value

The amount that a publisher charges for tickets to a live event depends largely on the demographics of the attendees. Refinery29 charges $40 a pop for tickets to its 29Rooms events, which are frequented by millennial women.

Publishers can charge more for tickets to an event geared towards corporate executives than to an event geared towards teenagers or twenty-somethings. Publishers need to understand the demographics of their audiences in order to correctly price their events.

Finding Premium Brand Sponsors

Sponsorships are one of the keys to success for live events programming. Executives will pay a premium to attach their brands to high-end events. With paying sponsors on board, publishers can decrease the price of tickets for attendees. This has the added benefit of increasing the number of likely ticket buyers, thus giving sponsors even more bang for their buck. The more prominently a publisher displays sponsor logos, and the more people who attend the conference or live event, the more sponsors will pay to participate.

Leveraging Sponsorship Deals

Most sponsors will pay to have their logos included on promotional materials, like brochures and step-and-repeats. They may also be willing to donate product, which can be particularly useful depending on the type of brand sponsoring the event. For example, at the Vulture Festival (an event put on by New York Magazine) sponsors Eli, Fiji, and Stella Artois gave away beverages to attendees. Another sponsor, the Viceroy Hotel, invited on-stage panelists to stay at their property.

Keeping Costs Low

Soliciting product donations from event sponsors isn’t the only way publishers can reduce overhead costs. In fact, many successful live events have been organized on shoestring budgets. City and regional magazine publishers will often host meet-and-greet events with readers as a way to boost engagement and promote subscription packages. Newsroom tours are another popular option that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Think of these types of events as field trips for adults. Readers pay for the privilege of getting a behind-the-scenes look inside their favorite publications, along with the chance to meet reporters and let them know what topics they’re interested in reading more about.

Turning Events into Digital Content

Looking to squeeze every ounce of juice from their live events, publishers have started recording the original programming and publishing that content in the form of podcasts, e-books, and videos. On-demand videos from summits and conferences are particularly popular right now, as attendees look for ways to share what they learned with colleagues back home.

Bundling Deals for Advertisers

Although most of this list involves strategies for decreasing publishers’ reliance on digital advertising, there are a number of ways that publishers can also use live events to strengthen their existing relationships with advertisers. For starters, publishers can offer discounted, or even free, sponsorship opportunities for businesses that advertise on their websites for a certain period of time. These types of deals are a great opportunity to sell advertisers on larger packages, as well.