We surveyed 22 digital news organizations for this study, and conducted follow up interviews with representatives of 21 between August 2014 and March 2015. The 22 companies in the study were selected to provide a range of sizes and missions.
We included 10 that focus on a single niche topic or demographic audience, either local or national, seven organizations that cover local news on multiple topics, and five that operate both a local news site with multiple topics and a niche vertical.
The sites studied also represent a range of sizes. Six of the companies reported 2014 revenue of $100,000 or less; eight others had revenues of $500,000 or less; and four had revenue between $500,000 and $1 million. The two largest are SheFinds, with revenue well over $1 million; and Third Door Media, whose sites include the marketing site Search Engine Land, with revenue in the range of $8-10 million.
Six of the sites launched in 2010 or later and 14 launched between 2005 and 2009. The oldest sites, BaristaNet and SheFinds, launched in 2004. Nearly half the organizations in the study operate more than one site. Most have established a track record in sales and report revenue increases.
The sites reflect developing models in a dynamic field. It is not known how many online news and information startups are operating in the United States. In its State of the News Media 2015 report, Pew Research Center reported that the growth and variety of news startups make it difficult to track them. Certainly, they number in the hundreds. Michele’s List, a five-year-old database of independent, born-on-the-Web sites that are actively pursuing revenue, contains about 300 sites.
The report was commissioned and edited by the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, whose work is supported by the Tow Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.
For more information about the sites studied for this report, including links to their online rate cards/media kits, please fill out this brief feedback form.