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Local newspaper discovers new revenue source in police blotter

Local newspaper discovers new revenue source in police blotter

James Breiner | December 26, 2013

Who would have thought that a small-town newspaper could discover a new revenue source worth $100,000 by repackaging some of its content?

As the Wall Street Journal reports, a local best-selling book in a Montana town is "We Don't Make This Stuff Up: The Very Best of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle Police Reports."

Editors have always known of the public's interest in police news and the human dramas and comedies that law enforcement officers witness on a daily basis. But the Daily Chronicle decided to go a step beyond publishing the daily news and compile the most interesting items into a book.

11,000 copies

Since it was published two years ago, the book has gone through three printings and sold 11,000 copies at US$10 apiece. That's in a town of 39,000 people, the Journal reported. An updated second edition is now on sale in bookstores, and many people buy it as a Christmas gift.

For a newspaper with 19 employees, US$100,000 is a significant amount of revenue.

Robert Niles, in his book "How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online," urges local news publishers to explore alternative revenue sources. One of his suggestions is that they publish electronic books that compile the best of their stories on a particular topic.

The Daily Chronicle publishing venture is obviously not an eBook, but the principle is the same. A news organization's daily product and archives have material that is more valuable when it is re-packaged in a form convenient for readers.

Other examples:

  • The New Yorker magazine has begun publishing an annual cartoon edition with a compilation of the year's work. And it offers cartoons in large formats for up to $1,000 with framing.

  • American City Business Journals' 40 weekly business newspapers publish weekly lists of the Top 25 businesses in various categories and makes these lists available online in digital format that is searchable and can be used to make mailing lists. The digital version for each edition sells for $200.

What unique content could your news organization repackage?

Your publication has information that might be more valuable to your users in a different format. Your readers have probably asked you for it at various times. Maybe now is the time to do something about it.

This post originally appeared on the blog News Entrepreneurs. It is published on IJNet with the author's permission.

James Breiner is a consultant in online journalism and leadership. He is a former co-director of the Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua University and a former Knight International Journalism Fellow who launched and directed the Center for Digital Journalism at the University of Guadalajara. He is bilingual in Spanish and English. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via Jason Rojas.

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