The Santa Monica Daily Press is among the few companies selected for the Google News Initiative’s highly competitive accelerator program and readers will soon see changes in the Santa Monica Daily Press’ business model driven by the program’s industry leading practices.
When companies change their revenue models, some people freak out. Our plans will no doubt be misunderstood or outright misinterpreted on the internet, so everyone should know what we’re doing, who we’re working with, and why we’re changing.
As a first step, SMDP is launching a reader revenue program. Simply put, the news is free to you, but it’s not free to produce. The print and digital advertising business remains strong, but it’s not enough to future-proof local news. Forward-thinking local news agencies across the world are deploying strategies to diversify their revenue.
Today, few news agencies are entirely funded by advertising. Some operate using pay to play events, licensing deals with television or affiliate links to buy products. Many solicit revenue directly from readers through donations, memberships or through old-fashioned subscription models.
We are a free local daily so we have no paywall or cost at the rack to get the paper but this new program allows readers to contribute directly to the cost of the news they value.
We won’t abandon our existing business just because we’re expanding into reader revenue. We are happy to sell you advertising and encourage you to support the local businesses that fund these pages. However, advertising will need more support in the future, and this is where reader revenue comes in.
Local news coverage can be guaranteed for another 20, 40 or 100 years if you always look ahead and pivot long before a crisis arises. That’s why we’re expanding into this field.
This isn’t a hasty decision made in a vacuum. Far from it. Our program is being developed with the help of industry leaders, major tech companies and other local news agencies across the country who are also doing the heavy lifting of reporting on their local cities.
As one of 14 publications chosen to participate in the Google News Initiative, we have access to their expertise, information, and advice. We’re developing our program with their guidance and in keeping with the best practices derived from other successful publications across the country.
Within one year of the closure of Bell’s weekly paper, one of the worst examples of municipal fraud occurred. Their city manager, city council and top officials were able to rapaciously bilk millions of dollars from the public coffers…because nobody was watching.
Every city deserves an independent, local news agency reporting the most important stories. We are a well-credentialed, well-trained group of journalists who love what we do for you, our readers. Thanks for your continued support, and thanks for reading.
SMDP Editorial Board