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Publisher calls for online donations to help local titles ‘stay in the game’

Matt-Kelly-e1400584060744A regional publisher is launching a new initiative which will allow readers to make online donations to help fund its journalism.

Archant is calling on readers of its local news websites to make donations via a partnership with New Zealand-based company PressPatron.

Donors will be able to give one-off or recurring contributions of any amount they like under the scheme.

Archant already uses PressPatron on its pro-European Union weekly The New European.

The move is the first such initiative in the regional press since a similar experiment by the North West Evening Mail and Carlisle News & Star in 2017.

In what was believed to be an industry first, the then-CN Group sister dailies appealed to readers to make one-off donations or become regular supporters via monthly subscriptions.

According to chief content officer Matt Kelly, the PressPatron scheme is worth “several thousand pounds of revenue” to TNE every month while reader donations have also kept national daily The Guardian afloat for several years.

Matt, pictured, unveiled the initiative in a message to staff sent out last week.

He wrote: “As you know, we – together with the rest of the industry – are quite some way away from creating a sustainable model for digital-only local journalism, and this is something we need to do to stay in the game if and when our print titles cease to be profitable.”

“In many ways, it is similar to the model The Guardian have been running for several years and has become a central source of their revenue – in fact, a life-saving source of revenue.

“I believe this works well on The Guardian and TNE because readers of those titles care passionately about their existence, and are actually delighted to have the opportunity to help keep them going. They don’t find it onerous. They are glad to contribute.

“The same should be true of all our local titles. We keep our communities supplied with important content. It costs us a lot of money to do this, and none of our titles – none of them – have a god-given right to eternal existence.

“If the community values us and wants us to keep on doing what we do, we have to give them the wherewithal to help us do that, and this is what PressPatron allows.”

“What we do is important, and it is imperilled. The coronavirus pandemic has made this situation exceptionally acute, but we all know this is a long-term issue that must be solved if local journalism is to thrive.

“More importantly, I hope you and your families are all safe and well and adjusting to these strange new times.”