In case you've been wondering... here's what Press Patron is all about and what it means for you and Pundit.
Whether you visit Pundit frequently or just stop by now and then, you might have noticed recently a new banner across the top of the site and a bright red button on the right hand panel. They're there because the world is changing.
When we started Pundit back in 2008, we had a business plan – a budget, potential backers, ads on the site, plans for video and more. Well, we were ahead of our time. Or just not up to snuff. Either way, we've never made any money.
For years though we ran ads on the site, which made a few hundred here and there and allowed us to cover some of the bill for maintenance and servers. But no more. Google and Facebook did for that and now we're seemingly irretrievably ad-free. Which means no money to pay those bills, except out of our own pocket.
Then along came a young New Zealand chap called Alex Clark. He's created something called Press Patron. If you move around the websites trying to do serious journalism and commentary in this country, you will have seen in recent weeks these Press Patron thingamy-widgets popping up. In short, it's a smooth and simple way for you to contribute to quality New Zealand journalism at a time when, frankly, the model is buggered. Not completely buggered, but buggered enough to need help.
As Alex says:
If we want journalism to survive and thrive, supporters like you are going to be essential. It's extremely hard generating revenue from online journalism, and it's getting worse. Advertising rates have been declining for years, and 85% of new digital ad revenue is going straight to Google and Facebook.
Told you it was bad. For full transparency, Alex takes a small cut for his work, but it's small. Almost all the money you donate here comes direct to Pundit. And rest assured, it will all go back into the site, not into anyone's pockets.
I asked Alex to report how it's been going so far on the other sites:
It's been awesome to see the goodwill of Kiwis. People understand that it takes a lot of work to produce high quality journalism and without any obligation or requirement, two thirds of supporters have chosen to make monthly contributions; the average is more than $13. For one-time contributions, more than 40% of people are giving $50 or higher. Whether it's $1 or $1000, people are giving what they can afford. Best of all, the contributions have been adding up to become a key source of new revenue for many publishers.
And now we've had the week of Newsroom's amazing Todd Barclay story. So hopefully those numbers are climbing as we speak. Alex has also done some research on those who have contributed so far, specifically asking why they contribute:
One supporter highlighted that 'it's more important than ever to support and encourage quality journalism, particularly in NZ,' expressing her hope that independent publishers can 'garner enough support to be self-sustaining and become major news sources'. Another simply believed it was 'the ethical thing to do'.
Many feel that they have an ethical obligation to support journalism, especially those who have cancelled their print subscriptions.
Thankfully there are more and more people who understand the importance of reader support. As more people come on board, it's making the future look a lot brighter amidst the doom and gloom!
So that's where we've got to. Those figures Alex quotes are from other sites. We're barely beginning. So look, no pressure. We're going to keep doing this for as long as we can anyway.
But it'd be nice to be able to update the site, given we really haven't done anything round the place for nearly a decade. You'll note it can be a bit slow, that it's kinda old-fashioned and could do with a spruce up. We'd love it if you could help.
Either way, thanks for coming by. Why not stay and have a look around. And come back soon. Cheers.