Communications Director, Newspack
Steve Beatty is the Communications Director for Newspack, a WordPress.com project that aims to simplify operations for small and medium-sized online publishers. Previously he served in various leadership roles with the Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers organization. Before that, Beatty was Publisher and CEO of The Lens in New Orleans and has also worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.
I think getting money voluntarily from your readers is a huge deal because it shows their commitment and their buying in and the more you can call them members or make them part of your community and not make it transactional, like a subscriber.
(It’s) two-way communication that goes beyond saying, ‘OK, here’s the comment section, have at it.’ You know, then it turns into a sewer that nobody really reads. So figuring out a way to be of the community again and be in touch with the people that you’re writing about to make sure you’re writing about the right things.
Like any business and like any newspaper or news outfit, bringing in enough money to keep doing it is the biggest challenge. And we’ve got members who are trying everything, you know, events, subscribers or donors or members, however you want to label the people that give you money voluntarily, advertising, sponsored content, a speakers bureau, you know, hiring their folks out to go talk at local events, and there’s no one answer. It’s a six-, seven- or eight-legged stool. We just got to figure out what all those legs are.
I think if people want to help water these ‘news deserts,’ there are better options now than there were 10 or 15 years ago. Just because you’re learning from the hard-won lessons of the people who went before you. So it’s almost a better time to start it off, start off a newsroom now than it was, even though foundations are starting to not give out as much money for nonprofits.