ProPublica is to start using Journalism Online's Press+ e-commerce platform to collect donations from readers, a press release announced yesterday. Readers of the top investigative journalism outlet's stories will sometimes come across a Press+ message on its site that will ask them to consider making a contribution. ProPublica, which won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this year, focuses on public interest investigative journalism and has a full time journalistic staff of 33.
ProPublica has always asked readers to donate, and has donate buttons on each page. It seems that the advantage of Press+ is that it targets the most engaged readers and that it can create individually targeted messages referring to specific content. Also, it allows those who already have Press+ subscriptions from other publications to donate more easily.
"The Press+ system offers ProPublica an additional way to seek support from our frequent readers, building on our efforts to sustain investigative journalism," said Richard Tofel, General Manager of ProPublica, in a press release. "The software allows us to seek donations just as readers are accessing our content. Press+ also permits us to adjust how quickly readers are asked to contribute, and the language of our request, as we learn more about what to expect."
Journalism Online was created in April 2009 with a mission to build an online payment system that could be used by multiple publications to allow smooth payments. So far, several major publishers have chosen to go their own way with paid online content but News Corp invested in the company in June 2010 and JO co-founder Steve Brill said at the time that some 80 media organisations were expected to roll out Press+. Some smaller news organisations have integrated the system, including LancasterOnline.com, the nonprofit Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and GlobalPost. MediaNews Group has also been using the system.
The John L. and James S. Knight Foundation announced in September that it was to enable ten of its grantees to use the Press+ platform to seek donations. The Knight Foundation made an arrangement with Journalism Online to offer a one-year waiver of the revenue share that Press+ charges to the first ten grantees to launch the system. The New Haven Independent has already taken up this offer.
Press+ can be used differently by different news organisations, allowing newspapers to make certain content only accessible to those who pay, for example, or the nonprofits to ask for but not require donations. GlobalPost uses the system for its membership scheme, which offers limited extra content but several extra services.
The more news organisations adopt it, the more interesting an offer Press+ becomes to publishers. Will it find enough clients to achieve relative ubiquity in the news industry for online payment?
Source: ProPublica/Journalism Online press release