This academic year, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Pantic on a research study that explores how local news organizations in the United States maintain financial sustainability in a digital era. During the summer of 2019, Dr. Pantic traveled across the country to conduct interviews and obtain information from multiple media outlets. Some of the organizations included Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico, New Haven Register in Connecticut, El Paso Herald Post in Texas, and more. Once Dr. Pantic conducted the interviews, I assessed and edited the transcriptions. I also contributed to the results section of the manuscript.
From our interesting findings, I learned that organizations still rely on advertising to make a profit. On the other hand, many of the local news organizations under study are experimenting with other methods to earn revenue. Some of the methods include reader donations, subscriptions/membership, and designated events. To attract new readers, subscribers, and donations, I learned that media outlets heavily focus on producing original content. While this can be challenging, the data suggests that creating stories that would garner attention at a local level, but not a national level will ultimately help the organizations achieve stability.
Overall, this study was a great experience. While there were times I felt that I wouldn’t complete my portion of the study, thanks to Dr. Pantic’s patience and communication, I did. Not only have I learned a lot, but this study has also prepared me for when I enter the media world. Now, I understand the contemporary nature of the industry and the issues that journalism currently faces. It was an honor to work with Dr. Pantic and I am excited to present our findings at the Research Day virtual event in May.
From the last blog in December, there has been a great amount of progress in my study with Dr. Pantic. Since then, we have started to work on our literature review. While Dr. Pantic worked on a majority of the review during winter break, I was assigned to gather information and start to write the material for the results and discussion section.
In this section, I thoroughly discuss the different business strategies the local news organizations, participating in the study, utilize to maintain vitality in the market. I write about each strategy with the help of the literature that Dr. Pantic obtained, as well as my own and the given information from the actual interviewees. However, a challenge I have experienced with this project is writers block. I feel that there are times when I am writing and referring to additional materials and I just get stuck. But the best way I have been able to overcome this challenge is to re-read the interview transcriptions and just familiarize myself with the topic, once again. Another challenge Dr. Pantic and I have both faced is time and being able to single-handedly focus on the research with classes back in session. Thankfully, we were able to get a lot completed during the break.
Besides the collected information on how news organizations aim to reach stability, I have learned that research is not easy and there will be inevitable obstacles. As long as I can get through them is what really matters. I have greatly enjoyed this collaboration with Dr. Pantic, as she is someone I truly admire and continue to learn a lot from.
Since the first blog, there has been a substantial amount of progress in my study with Professor Pantic. I have been able to thoroughly examine and interpret the business models that are employed by local news organizations across the country.
From the information that we have obtained, I think it is interesting how these distinct newspapers and digital-only news organizations aim to make a profit. From the interviews that were conducted, it is clear that the organizations under study don’t have a specific business model to maintain financial stability. Instead, they are all experimenting with different strategies like reader donations, organized events, paywalls, and more. However, it is also evident that many of these news media organizations do have one business strategy in common, which involves relying on advertisements.
The only question I have regarding the data that we’ve collected is how long will it take for these news organizations to actually gain sustainability and notice an increase in revenue, with the mentioned strategies. While this question is hard to answer, I assume that these strategies will eventually bring prominence amongst news organizations.
The title of my project with Professor Pantic is, “Looking for a Sustainable Newsroom model: The Case of U.S. media.” The purpose of the project is to explore and analyze how local news organizations maintain economic viability in today’s media environment, which is extremely competitive. With that being said, the main purpose of the study is to examine business models employed by newspapers and online news organizations, as well as provide guidance to these organizations on how to remain engaging and make up for revenues they may have lost in today’s media market.
From this research study, I expect to compare data and most importantly, learn about the sources of revenue that the news organizations in question rely on, as well as current advertising trends, economic challenges media face, and strategies they employ, etc. Furthermore, I hope I complete this study with a better understanding on how the current media environment operates.
To answer our research questions, Professor Pantic has conducted a series of interviews with media representatives of news organizations across the country. From that information, I have helped transcribe the interviews and I will begin to collect a great amount of data and evaluate the common themes.