A new study is out from the Renaissance Journalism Center that explores financial sustainability among journalism start-ups. It finds that most journalism start-ups are in the same place – searching frantically for revenue streams to replace depleting grant opportunities. Most of the start ups, initially funded through foundation money, are finding that grants are rarely awarded to established projects, opting rather to allot money for new ones. This puts journalists in an interesting position.
Competing for attention in the digital age is no easy task, and it takes a keen business sense to be successful. While journalists are good at journalism, what many of these start-ups lack is the business skills to find sufficient revenue to remain sustainable. Just 69% of respondents to this survey even have a business plan, and just 13% ranked their senior management team at the top in business skills.
And it seems that nothing too innovative is being done (yet) by way of generating revenue. The highest ranking revenue streams are foundation grants, individual donations, and advertising. There is hope, however. The vast majority of respondents are optimistic that the journalism-heavy organizations can be successful in a business environment.
It will be interesting to see where these organizations are in a year.