Briefly: Stuff jumps aboard the crowd-funding journalism model

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Today launched a campaign to get their users to fund their journalism directly:

Stuff has a long and trusted history of telling New Zealand stories. Through some of our newspapers, that dates back more than 150 years.

Today, we’re seeking your support to keep us telling Kiwi stories for another 150 years. This reliance on our readers is in our DNA; through a history of paid newspaper subscriptions as well as the time you’ve spent with us, which has attracted our advertisers.

Now, as with many other news organisations here and abroad, you can make a direct digital donation too. Donating supports Stuff’s mission to report your stories without fear or favour, and with fierce independence – it directly contributes to powering newsrooms across New Zealand.

I think this is a great move. I was moaning in late 2017 about how difficult it was to give local media money. It’s similar to what The Guardian has been doing recently, as well as many other smaller New Zealand publications like the Spinoff.

COVID-19 has been a big hit to the media, with many advertisers reducing their spend a lot given the economic shock (and some advertisers like travel companies are unlikely to come back any time soon). In the last couple of weeks I wanted to support local journalism, given I read Stuff political commentary and local news Wellington a lot, so I subscribed to the Dominion Post. While I have enjoyed reading a physical newspaper for a change, I will probably switch to a recurring donation to Stuff instead once my 3-month subscription runs out.

My response is one they’ll be worried about, but hopefully they’ll be able to tap into a new market of people who enjoy Stuff but have never given a dime (beyond advertising revenue). I suspect many people will laugh at the prospect of supporting ‘terribly, click-baity journalism’ but there will be some who like the idea.

As a side note, all of the New Zealand websites I’ve seen asking for donations are using Press Patron, which seems to be a low-key kiwi success story.