Tuesday Buzz: The Evolution of Membership-Driven News Outlets

News organizations are experimenting with membership programs and learning a lot in the process. Also: How to stay digitally safe while traveling abroad.

Newspapers have suffered profoundly during the internet revolution. A decline in subscribers and print ad dollars resulted in sharp drops in revenue, and online advertising isn’t making up for it.

As a result, media organizations have turned to membership programs to survive in the digital era.

The Membership Puzzle Project, a public research project studying how membership models can help sustain public service journalism, spoke with a variety of media organizations about their experience with membership programs. One respondent, Political Wire founder Taegan Goddard, finds membership programs onerous to maintain but worth it as it’s “the most honest model you can have.”

Some news organizations professed to having engagement challenges. “People who work on membership efforts within news frequently tell us that they need better systems for identifying which audience members they might engage with for best returns, as well as for testing and tracking communications to different audience segments,” explains research director Emily Goligoski. Third-party organizations are working on software solutions to help media groups solve this issue.

What’s one lesson that associations can learn from media experimentation? Members don’t care about unrelated perks. Benefits such as discounts to local restaurants take a lot of effort to manage but provide little payoff. Derick Dirmaier, head of product and creative at Talking Points Memo, says a high number of its subscribers became members simply because they believed in the organization’s mission. “They aren’t talking about perks, but about community, our work and reporting,” he said. “I underestimated the drive of members to just support something they believe in.”

Stay Safe

Even the most careful among us can fall victim to a cybercrime while traveling for business abroad. So, what should you do to stay safe?

“Before you go, make sure your devices are updated with the latest versions of your applications, anti-virus, anti-malware, and other software updates,” Emmanuel Schalit, CEO of the password manager Dashlane, told USA Today. Also, be sure to secure all devices with PIN numbers and encrypt the data on your device.

For added security, “only use HTTPS—Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)—when you’re online, especially when you’re on the road,” suggests Christopher Elliott.

Other Links of Note

Don’t undermine people’s confidence in you. Fast Company reveals the four professional situations when you should stop saying “sorry.”

Make sure your website is accessible. Blue Avocado shares ways to keep your organization ADA compliant.

Are you keeping up with digital transformation? Forbes shares essential leadership traits to keep your organization from falling behind.


Raegan Johnson

By Raegan Johnson

Raegan Johnson is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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