12 Apr 2022

New business models for Balkan media outlets

Media outlets can utilize their existing employees to unlock a new revenue stream

Client

Thomson Foundation & Internews

Year

2020–2022

Written by

Jernej Verbič

Independent media outlets in the West Balkans lack resources for quality news production. This is increasingly reflecting in their popularity among readers, listeners and viewers. By implementing new business models, media outlets can unlock a new revenue stream, compensate for their HR and financial deficit as well as improve the efficiency of their editorship.

Background

Njuz.net, Vidi Vaka, 360 stepeni and Sloboden pečat are just some of the media outlets from West Balkans, which are facing a HR and financial deficit, preventing them them from fulfilling their mission. The lack of systematic financing of quality production and the decline of interest for purchasing or supporting quality stories – which are the consequence of complex changes in the digital market – often push these media outlets to the brink of existence.

These days, a hefty portion of income in the digitalized media inustry is generated by so-called paywalls, which media outlets use to provide news to their subscribers. But there are not nearly enough subscribers willing to pay a fixed subscription fee in the West Balnaks to sustain the operation of independent media outlets.

Such media outlets therefore largely rely on the financing obtained through calls for tenders. However, in the last few years, tenders have begun shifting their focus to sustainable, long-term projects. This also applies Internews and the Thomson Foundation, which started financing consultations on revamping business models and investments that “teach media outlets to fish, instead of giving them actual fish”.

Solution

Jernej Verbič, our company director, is one of Internews’ and Thomson Foundation’s consultants. He provides consulting to selected media outlets, basing his approach on the brand newsroom model. This model is the most fitting for media outlets since they already have most employee profiles required for establishing a brand newsroom.

For instance, even before the consultations took place, the Macedonian Vidi Vaka already had a quality production team of cameramen, video editors and animators who produced feature stories for social media channels. In fact, this team was the first in the region to pioneer in the field of “social media only”, targeting mostly the young population. The only employee profile they lacked to establish a brand newsroom was a content producer who would be in charge of creating content concepts for each brand newsroom project.

But establishing a brand newsroo is not only a means of unlocking new revenue streams. It also allows media outlets to boost the production quality of their news. Outlets which don’t have their own production team can utilize the extra production capacities to increase the efficiency of their newsroom and produce video reports and news, following the example of Vidi Vaka.

Outcome

The development of Vidi Vaka‘s brand newsroom is still in the accelerator stage. Nevertheless, it has notably increased the media outlet’s montly income in merely six months. The “hard news” newsroom thrilled not only with the reinforcements in the creative production team and the consequent production quality improvements, but also with the increased reach of their stories. In this starting phase, the brand newsroom team is focused on development since majority of the team also works on news projects and is fully booked.

On-going consultations and organizational changes are also showing promising results in other company areas. The (digital) skills of their marketing managers, who market brand newsroom services, are also being utilized in the promotion of news stories. Their reach on Facebook has exceeded a record-breaking one million users. To put the numbers in perspective – North Macedonia has around 1.2 million Facebook users.

The reach on Facebook has exceeded a record-breaking one million users.

You can learn more about the consulting process and the key highlights from our workshops in the articles, which we have published on the British journalist portal Journalift:

Brand Newsroom: Organization and Flow;
Brand Newsroom: A New Revenue Stream for Media Outlets.

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