Work in Progress, 9th Feb



Work in Progress

News, thoughts and opinions about the world of local independent online media in the UK and beyond.

Philip John


Next week is half term so you may not hear from me as if there’s one thing I consider sacred it’s time with the kids. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this newsletter so far. Is it useful? Could it be more useful? Do you like or loathe my tone? This is an experiment for me so all feedback is very welcome!

The Morning Walk Podcast

A soggy one this morning as I braved the rain to listen to the first of four in a special series from Media Voices looking at futureproofing local news, one I’ve been excited to get to. This first episode looked at the state of the market including the voices of folks I respect like Jonathan Heawood of PINF and David Floyd of Social Spider.

It’s a must listen as far as I’m concerned for anyone interested in the future of local news in the UK.

What’s Happening

LION is a US organisation dedicated to supporting local independent online news publishers and the kind of organisation I wish we had in the UK. They recently published their annual report and I wanted to share this summary from their latest newsletter:

  • Grew to more than 500 members across the U.S. and Canada
  • Distributed $3.8 million in direct dollars to approximately one-third of our membership
  • Provided 496 hours of coaching and consulting

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have something similar in the UK? At the moment, PINF are doing a great job of supporting the independent sector so if you’re not already joining the conversation please get in touch with PINF. They’re planning something really exciting for later this year, which I’ can’t I’m sworn to secrecy on for now but trust me, you want to be involved!

There’s a new workbook [PDF] from the Lenfest Institute helping US publishers to write better grant applications. Do you know of anything similar in the UK? Let me know so I can share it around.

Some great metrics from BlueLena who grouped together 29 publishers in an end-of-year giving campaign. It shows the benefit of publishers working collectively to boost reader revenue as part of a wider industry campaign. Again, it’d be fantastic to have something like this in the UK, right?!

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working directly with award-winning Wendi C. Thomas on re-platforming MLK50 so I love to see the site flourishing after 7 years and this recent interview on Wendi’s motivation is an interesting read.

We often think of the US as something of a utopia for media funding but the smallest publishers sound much more like those of us in the UK. Nieman Lab reports that these publishers believe “more foundation money should flow directly to … the smallest, community-based, homegrown newsrooms in the form of direct, unrestricted operating funding.” That sounds very familiar! 32 of those publishers have now banded together to try and attract funding as a collective.

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I suppose if you have feedback you can email me too.

Until next time…

Philip John avatar

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