A rise in digital subscriptions has been noticeable in the past month. An aggregate of Statista shows how big this surge really is. The growth of certain US publishers was just tremendous. This is partly because readers start realizing that online content is worth paying for and because quality news is in high demand in a time where politicians constantly undermine the credibility of the press.
Being called “untrustworthy”, “the opposition party”, “fake news”, “the enemy of the American people”, didn’t really hurt media companies. Neither did shutting several big outlets out of a White House press briefing. In fact, it had quite the opposite outcome: Donald Trump’s presidency has led to a readership bump for publishers, with newspapers thriving in the past few months. Now the challenge is to turn this short term surge into a sustainable increase in subscriptions. Editor & Publisher spoke to several outlets about how they want to achieve this. We have put together the highlights.
Los Angeles Times
Taking a bold stance against their ban of the mentioned press briefing, editor-in-chief, Davan Maharaj released a statement about how the public has a right to be “informed by a variety of news sources, not just by those filtered by the White House press office in the hopes of getting friendly coverage.” The LA Times launched a campaign with the message “Real Journalism, Real Impact” and calls 2017 “The Year of Trust” in digital subscription advertisements. With a message of trust in accountable journalism they want to continue riding on this wave. “Regardless of who is in the White House”, Hillary Manning, director of communications, says, trustworthy news is critical also on a regional and local level.
In February the Post rolled out its new catchy, alas slightly sinister, slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness”. The effects of the new slogan cannot be recorded yet but more subscriptions have been generated in January than any month before, even beating a record-setting November. Overall the Post was able to double its digital subscription revenue in the last year, with a 75% increase in subscribers.
Southern California news group
SCNG launched a vast ad campaign to convert the fake-news phenomenon into cash-making subscriptions. Their tagline? “Get your real news here”. It reflects a simple idea: in an ever more complex sea of news where anybody can be a writer, news outlets must reaffirm themselves as the haven of thorough and unbiased reporting. As Mr. Pine, SCNG executive editor concludes, “It is […] important to remember the government is accountable to the people—which the media is an important part of, and not the other way around”.
The fact-checker behind the “Trump-O-Meter” (a tool checking the status of Mr. Trump’s promises) launched a membership program, to capture the “fake news” momentum by giving their fan-base an opportunity to support the site’s full time fact-checkers. Calling it a resounding success is an understatement: it raised more money in 20 days than targeted for the whole year. Aaron Sharockman, executive director of Politifact, hopes to enable the site to cope with the increased activity, which started rising in early days of the campaign days and hasn’t dwindled since.
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