Income Models of Independent Media in Difficult Contexts

Struggling to survive, media and media support organisations alike are trying to discover and share trends, tips and tricks that can support media in developing their business models. While the struggle to survive is global, much of the attention in publications focuses on models from Europe or North America. This leaves media in more challenging economic or political environments wondering whether lessons learned and case studies are applicable to them. This report outlined a study conducted by Free Press Unlimited in 2019 and 2020, that consists of data collected by interviewing media from exactly these contexts (84 media from 42 countries), around the following research question: Which environmental factors and characteristics of independent, small to medium sized public interest media influence their income model?

The report concludes that, across the board, media will be in need for grant funding, as well as support for business model development. Even media in the comparatively less challenging environments will need to continuously update their business models. A lot of flexibility and resilience is required to survive while developing a diversified income model over the course of many years, a long period for which continued grant funding is very often required. Even the media who consider themselves doing financially relatively well, or better than before, indicate that it remains complex and difficult to generate sufficient revenue. Well-off media can be easily disrupted when one larger partnership ends or the country’s economy or press freedom status takes a step back. Providing core funding would allow media to continue their operations as well as appropriating resources to business management.

Author: Evaline Schot

Supervisor: Saskia Nijhof

Year Country Organisation Author Type
2020 Global Free Press Unlimited Schot, E. research report
Theory of Change Keywords Download/link
Intermediate Outcome 3 case studies, financial sustainability, revenue streams Download/link