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With summer beginning to take shape here on the East Coast, I wanted to call attention to one of our favorite customers, an influential weekly paper, published continuously since 1885, which covers one of New York City’s most cherished summer getaways, East Hampton.
The Newspaper of Record for East Hampton, The East Hampton Star – http://www.easthamptonstar.com – recently implemented Tinypass in an effort to better monetize the web version of its popular South Fork weekly.
The Star is perhaps best known for its expansive letters to the editor policy which states that every letter to the editor it receives “exclusively, with the exception of those sent anonymously, or those judged to be proselytizing, an invasion of privacy, libelous, or obscene” will be published in the paper, thus making The Star one of the only newspapers in the nation to print all of the letters that it receives.
Notably The Star is not a free weekly, and has long been available for sale in select Manhattan locations as well as at shops and groceries throughout East Hampton and eastern Southampton Town. By using Tinypass to establish a metered paywall on its site, The Star is implementing the sort of common sense business practice that has served it so well over the course of three centuries.
We are thrilled to add WEALTHTRACK – http://wealthtrack.com – to the growing list of media outlets using Tinypass to offer their audiences premium online content and an enhanced user experience.
Founded by Consuelo Mack, the award winning, weekly half-hour program on public television is now in its eighth season and is seen in 140 markets, including all of the top 20, covering 83% of the country. WEALTHTRACK has been dubbed the “Cramer Antidote” by the press and Money Magazine named Mack “The Best Money TV Host.” WEALTHTRACK is the only program on television devoted to long-term diversified investing in all of the investments people care about: stocks, bonds, real estate, insurance, art and collectibles.
Using Tinypass, premium subscribers receive early access to episodes of the program, as well as early access to sections of the site including One Investments and Action Points, and transcripts of WEALTHTRACK episodes. Finally, there are no pre-roll ads for paying subscribers.
In partnership with Tinypass, WEALTHTRACK is poised to benefit from peoples willingness to pay for award-winning content, on-demand convenience, and ad-free viewing on the Open Web.
Jeff Israely knows the news business, perhaps too well. As the founder of Worldcrunch.com and a former bureau chief for Time magazine, he has felt the pain of old publishing models firsthand. When he was “downsized” as part of Time’s elimination of its permanent European editorial staff, Israely did what any good reporter would. He investigated. But this time, he was covering the story of his own industry and pursuing an idea for a news startup he’d been pondering.
Chronicling his thoughts about a potentially viable news startup for Nieman Journalism Lab, he followed leads in search of a viable future for high quality news publishing. Out of his story and unique angle Worldcrunch was born.
“Worldcrunch is based on a publishing idea that had been successful in Europe for 20 years”, says Israely. “This original concept took syndicated editorial content from a wide array of the world’s best newspapers regardless of language and then translated for a single national or linguistic audience, notably for a French weekly called Courier Internationnal and others in Italy, Poland, Japan and elsewhere. Worldcrunch believed the same model could work if they translated foreign language papers into English and published online. Israely and his partner, Irene Toporkoff, assembled an all-star advisory board, raised angel financing and launched the company.
The first problem to solve was sourcing editorial content. Israely’s pitch to publishers was simple. In exchange for translating their stories, Worldcrunch would be allowed to publish those stories on their site and then share revenues with the partner for syndicated sales of the translated product. The fascinating implication of this model is that it creates an entirely new set of products throughout the content value chain. Says Israely, “We might choose a story from an Italian paper, add an editorial and translation filter and the New York Times syndication service will sell that to an Indonesian paper whose readers all speak English, but not Italian”. To use the most obvious of puns, Worldcrunch takes advantage of the fact that English has become the lingua franca of the Internet.
By translating stories from 25 publications ranging from Le Monde to Die Welt and newspapers in China, Russia and Brazil, Worldcrunch has managed to aggregate high-quality editorial from many angles while adding otherwise inaccessible local perspectives. A case in point is Syria, with a consortium of six French-language news agencies providing high-quality, regional coverage that is only available in English via Worldcrunch.
Getting the model right demands balancing staff-size with product demands. Today, Worldcrunch’s four Paris-based staffers coordinate a team of 15 freelancers around the world to handle translation. The result is five to six “Premium Stories” per day and the same number of “Crunch-It” aggregated articles. Premium Stories tend to be longer articles, op-ed and reportage. The site also publishes in-depth coverage of major events like the recent selection of the new Pope.
Worldcrunch’s growth has been steady over the past 12 months, rising from 150K readers a month to 250K. Israely attributes much of his inspiration to “The Newsonomics of Small Things”, an article by Ken Doctor of the Nieman Lab that argued that publishers would need to move away from simply advertising and circulation and find lots of “golden eggs”, his name for small but valuable revenue streams, like in-sourcing, events and custom publishing.
Paid subscriptions also figure strongly into Worldcrunch’s plans. “Our revenue will come from a variety of sources including ads, consumer subscriptions and B2B and institutional subscribers”, says Israely. “Tinypass was a perfect fit for us because the technology worked for today’s paid content models and their corporate philosophy matched ours”.
Israely admits that running a paid news site presents inherent challenges. “We have to make smart choices about what we cover and translate. We’ve also discovered that Google’s algorithm favors “outlinks” – our goal is to keep readers on site but that lowers our ranking in their index”. The company feels strongly that the path to success will come from creating a unique product with value. “We’re convinced that if you make something people love, they are happy to pay for it”.
We take our hats off to Jeff and his fellow pioneers at Worldcrunch and hope you’ll join us in supporting them and reading the best writing from the world’s best papers, all in one place.
One our newest customers, BKLYNR.com, launched their maiden issue on April 4th. In a twist for us, BKLYNR raised the initial seed money for their site using Tinypass rather than Kickstarter. (They reached their goal in 16 days. They had given themselves 30.) Thomas Rhiel, one of the site’s co-founders, explains why.
“We weren’t interested in stuffing mailers with t-shirts,” he said. “We wanted all of our time focused on producing BKLYNR itself. And with Tinypass, everyone who signs up is already entered into Tinypass’s subscription management and billing system. We also liked that we could set up Tinypass ourselves and also that it let’s us experiment to find the pricing that works”.
BKLYNR offers subscribers the choice of a recurring monthly subscription, which is $2, or a one-time annual subscription, which is $20.
The undertaking is the brainchild of three former Columbia University classmates, the aforementioned Rhiel, Raphael Pope-Sussman and Ben Cotton who all worked together at the Columbia Spectator and is an inspiring example of what Craig Mod calls Subcompact Publishing, a new breed of online writing which is “not quite website, not quite magazine, not quite book” – rather the byproduct of a close collaboration between writers, technologists and product designers.
Thomas, whose day job is at Google where he works on the Google Apps team, took a few minutes to help us understand what we can expect from his ambitious crew.
According to Rhiel, BKLYNR fills a hole in the market for serious, in-depth, cultural and political journalism about the borough. He and his co-founders noted the broad (and sometimes teasing) coverage of Brooklyn’s artisanal movements, food and arts scene by publications ranging from New York Magazine to the Style section of the New York Times. They also enjoy sites like Gothamist and neighborhood-specific blogs, but see a place in the market for a more magazine-like publication that’s native to the web, featuring thoughtful explorations of Brooklyn, it’s residents, issues, arts and politics.
“We all felt a need to scratch the journalism itch without leaving our day jobs” says Rhiel. “In November we were inspired when the guys at MATTER raised $140K on Kickstarter and by what Marco Arment is up to with The Magazine”.
We here at Tinypass feel strongly that the demise of the Fourth Estate has been greatly exaggerated and we are heartened not only by upstarts like BKLYNR, but also by BKLYNR’s creative use of Tinypass. We can serve the next wave of media well beyond their initial fundraising by providing all of the business functionality needed to run a premium content site. Welcome to the family BKLYNR!