For media seeking to support the free flow of information in fragile environments, the issue of financial sustainability is complex. Both media in exile (out-of-country news outlets feeding independent information back in) and news outlets in restrictive news environments (in country providing counter information) exist in flawed market situations and often rely on grant funding.
Researchers have stopped short of exploring the revenue streams of these media. Empirical data is scarce and a corresponding understanding of the funding structure of these media is lacking.
MIS researcher Clare Cook is working to fill this gap by mapping three main revenue categories of media in exile or in restrictive news environments: grant funding, earned income and donations. The major factors influencing revenue streams compared to online media startups in open markets are discussed. The study found the need to identify collaborative approaches to promote economic resilience for media under threat.
Thanks to Nemode RCUK funding, the Media Innovation Studio has hosted a workshop on the potential for collaborative revenue capture for exiled media: looking at whether or not there are ways to pool content or work together that could emerge a new business model or new revenue potential.
It was nothing short of an honour to welcome journalists in exile from Syria, Iran, Sri Lanka and more from restricted news environments. We also invited digital creatives and experts from across the media business sector and grant organisations such as Open Society Foundations and Internews, as well as Index on Censorship and Diversity Ad.
The aim of the event was to unpick how a collaborative approach could assist revenue capture for exiled media. It was our intention to bring together a range of experts from the donor community and exiled media as well as in the field of editing, cooperative news, advertising networks and media innovation to explore how exiled media could benefit.
The result was a highly stimulating and innovative workshop which has emerged some interesting ideas worthy of development and testing.
To combine innovations with press freedoms is highly beneficial and impactful. A journal article and report are forthcoming.