GlobalPost thrives, looks to expand journalism model

byDana Liebelson
Apr 13, 2011 in Specialized Topics

While many major news outlets are downsizing their foreign bureaus or scrapping them altogether, GlobalPost is forging a promising new model for international journalism.

GlobalPost launched online in January 2009 with the aim of redefining international news for the digital age. Since then, the site has remained committed to traditional journalism ideals while offering a sustainable business model.

IJNet interviewed Philip S. Balboni, GlobalPost’s CEO when the site first launched. In the last two years, the media environment has undergone a number of changes, but GlobalPost has continued to grow. IJNet got back in touch with Balboni to talk about the lessons learned since the site’s launch and where GlobalPost is headed next.

IJNet: How does GlobalPost offer a sustainable business model?

Philip Balboni: We have been designed to be scalable and as our traffic grows and revenue increases we can keep a tight handle on the cost side. Without any of the costs or entanglements associated with old media, we are on a solid footing for long-term success.

IJNet: What regions are your correspondents focusing on at present?

PB: We have correspondents in every region of the world and we try to go where we can find the most interesting stories that aren’t getting covered by other media. Of course, we have correspondents in conflict zones and we give them a fair amount of attention as well as those countries that are vital to the United States’ long-term economic interests.

IJNet: What challenges has GlobalPost had with so many far-flung reporters/virtual newsrooms?

PB: Well, the coordination effort involved in dealing with reporters all over the globe in many time zones is significant. Luckily, the web is the great facilitator for online newsrooms and we are able to deal with the operational challenges of so many sources of input by having an incredibly organized and hard working editorial staff in Boston. Our staff here works in shifts and in tight coordination to move copy and multimedia through the process to publication.

IJNet: What tools do you use most to keep in contact with these reporters and how do you pay them?

PB: Email and Skype help us stay in touch. Some of our correspondents are paid through PayPal and some through direct deposit. Wire transfers are also part of the mix.

IJNet: Can you tell me about your World Blog contributors?

PB: GlobalPost allows writers for its World Blogs section to post articles and we do not edit or alter those postings as a matter of our agreement with those writers. We have more than 300 bloggers at the moment and there are no plans for a major expansion, but we are always looking for new and relevant voices that we can add to the mix.

IJNet: What's next for GlobalPost? Are you considering offering content in other languages?

PB: It is hard to predict the future with the online sector, as the playing field, technology and consumer habits are constantly evolving. We are going to continue to focus on high quality journalism that informs and entertains and on delivering it through as many platforms (and to as many people) as possible. We currently work with syndication partners that translate and distribute our content into Spanish and French. We would soon like to be able to offer other languages as an option on our own site.

IJNet: What's the best way to get published on GlobalPost?

PB: Read GlobalPost, understand our voice and then pitch us stories you don’t think that people can find elsewhere, that help our audience understand a complex issue or bring them to a place that they most likely will never visit. If it is incisive and a good read, we’ll find a place for it.