Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Idaho Press and Southeast Missourian among 10 papers picked for Google News Initiative Digital Subscriptions Lab

Two non-metropolitan newspapers have been chosen to participate in the Google News Initiative Digital Subscriptions Lab. The Local Media Association announced that the 10 participants include the Idaho Press of Nampa, owned by the fast-growing Adams Publishing Group, and The Southeast Missourian of Cape Girardeau, the flagship of Rust Communications, a local, family-owned firm.

Jon Rust
CEO Jon Rust said, “Digital subscriptions are the key to our future, and this initiative supercharges the effort for newspapers outside the largest in the country, including small ones like us. We believe profit is like oxygen, and we’ve got to have it to live. But we don’t live just to breathe. Our mission covering local communities with original journalism is bigger than that. Building a new business model that supports community journalism in a world of digital reliance would be like developing oxygen on Mars. The Google News Initiative Digital Subscriptions Lab is an important and exciting step in that direction.”

Google and the LMA, which helped judge the 21 applications for the lab, call it "an ambitious six-month program that will be laser-focused on finding a path forward for reader revenue strategies. . . .Judges looked for newspapers that were growing their digital subscription business and were ready to fast track it to the next level."

Each paper will undergo "a full diagnostics evaluation . .. across multiple dimensions – people, process, technology, marketing, and content," LMA says. "They will benchmark current performance, identify short-term optimization opportunities, and recommend longer-term transformation roadmaps. This includes providing a detailed scorecard to show how each publisher sizes up, and a dashboard for measuring ongoing progress. The publishers will also have robust support from Google teams that bring expertise in data, strategy, technology, product, and marketing. LMA will lead the cohort community building with the participating publishers, helping them benchmark their progress and share key learnings and best practices. These insights will then be shared with the industry at large. A three-hour workshop on September 18 at Elevate, a joint LMA/LMC event, will feature the top recommendations and lessons learned."

The other eight newspapers are The Baltimore Sun, The Buffalo News, The Columbus Dispatch, the Houston Chronicle, the Portland Press Herald of Maine, The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina; The Toronto Star and El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico's largest newspaper.

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