Reader Revenue Resources

Revenue that comes directly from readers in the form of subscriptions, memberships, donations, events and more is crucial for the long-term sustainability of news organizations — especially those serving local communities.

To help create that future, the American Press Institute offers practical guides and resources to help publishers get started or go to the next level with their reader revenue strategies.

Question you need answered? Something missing? Are your own reader revenue initiatives and projects proving successful and you want to share? Reach out to Gwen Vargo, VP of communications and operations, at

Case studies

How the Akron Beacon Journal has increasingly served Black readers – expanding its audience and revenue

Grow your audience and paid online subscription base by bridging significant gaps in reaching key segments, including Black readers.

Save digital subscriptions by killing “zombies”

When subscribers don't read content, they're far more likely to cancel their subscriptions. Hunting "zombies" to reduce churn should be part of any healthy subscription revenue strategy.

How a small-town North Carolina newspaper became digital-first to save its 123-year-old legacy

The News Reporter of Columbus County, N.C., built a digital-first workflow, established a metered paywall and consolidated its subscription plans. The result was an increase in its circulation and subscription revenue.

How a 1-pound bag of coffee helped the Keene Sentinel reduce its digital subscriber churn

Develop a program that bundles locally produced goods from local businesses with subscription offers. For example, you can work with a local coffee roaster, purchasing 1-pound bags of coffee, at half-price, to combine with an online-only subscription or weekend print delivery and full online access.

How The Salt Lake Tribune developed Mormon Land to grow its national audience

Consider reaching a national audience that cares about a topic your newsroom covers well. The national audience may not subscribe because the rest of your reporting isn’t as relevant to them. How could you get them to read, interact with, and most importantly, financially support your coverage?

Research & articles

Opinion journalism and sustainability: Publishers find out what works

Opinion editors today are actively engaged in demonstrating to their publishers that their content contributes to the bottom line. While they say their primary mission is to inform the community, engage in meaningful discourse and influence outcomes, they also see reader data, and reader revenue, as an important part of their work.

Funding news: How Gen Z and Millennials pay for or donate to news

As the economics of journalism continue to evolve, a defining question about the future is whether the news media can create content that consumers are willing to pay for or donate to directly. Central to answering that question is understanding the behavior of what many publishers call the next generation of news audiences, those Americans […]

These news orgs are building beats from reader donations

Asking audiences to make a donation to support journalism may not have been something many local news organizations — apart from public media newsrooms, that is — had experience (or comfort) doing. The coronavirus pandemic helped change that. Thrown into severe financial distress at the onset of the pandemic, some news organizations started asking for […]

How customer service can build trust and engagement with audiences

With advertising becoming a less reliable source of revenue for the embattled journalism industry, more news outlets are turning toward sources of consumer revenue to shore up their coffers. This rise of subscription and membership models has dovetailed with the rise of audience engagement in recent years, as newsrooms seek to build stronger relationships with […]

How local news organizations are taking steps to recover from a year of trauma

More than a year after the global pandemic became official, local journalism still grapples with the fallout — not only from the coronavirus but also by an intense nationwide racial reckoning, regional disasters including fires and storms, and ever-present gun violence and mass shootings. The flood of news events over the past year also exacerbated […]

7 questions to help local media rebound in 2021

Worldwide, the lives of most journalists have been consumed over the past 12 months by cataclysmic events both anticipated and unexpected. But no media organization has been battered more than the local newsroom. Journalists in America’s towns and small cities were the first responders to massive COVID-19 outbreaks, police shootings, protests, violent demonstrations, fractious political […]