The money conundrum: It’s not either/or, folks. It’s all of the above.
At Block by Block 2010 a couple days ago, there were disagreements about how to best fund community news organizations.
Many of the sessions focused on advertising and other commercial revenue because that was what the vast majority of those attending said they wanted to talk about. Still, another group of attendees argued that the not-for-profit, less commercial route is the way to go for community-focused news organizations.
My response to this either-or way of framing the question is: “Both.” Both models have merit. A single stream of revenue, particular advertising, is going to work for some small, micro local for-profit sites in areas with strong retail communities. Grants may help non-profits get started but they won’t go the distance.
But for most, it’s going to be multiple revenue streams.
Instead of saying one or the other model is “the one,” let’s develop a good understanding of the pros and cons of each and share that information widely so each new publisher can make an informed decision.
Two recent posts reflect that spirit of sharing experience and provide strong analysis based on experience:
From Howard Owens: For-profit, non-profit and ???l ooks at the merits of community advertising.
From Scott Lewis: Sleeping around – the nonprofit edge explores the virtues of that model.
In their news organizations, Howard (The Batavian) and Scott (Voice of San Diego) are demonstrating how each model works and tweaking as they go.
Learn from them and add your ideas to the mix. As you think about the mission of your site, what revenue sources do you think will work best for you? Do they suggest a profit or not-for-profit structure?