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Hi everyone, and a hearty welcome to our new subscribers, including Colin, Daniel, Cecily, Erica, Pedro and Becky. We’re glad you’re here!

This week's edition is going to be a little light, as I received my second dose of the vaccine yesterday and, well, I'm not feeling so hot. But hey, it will be well worth it, especially in about 13 days when I can once again spend time thinking of some really good excuses to not leave my home...


Building Bridges in the Black Community

We're going to lead off this edition with a NewStart update. In particular, we're going to call your attention to a Columbia Journalism Review article published Thursday that focuses on one of our outstanding fellows, Crystal Good.

We've talked in the past in this newsletter about the work that Crystal has put into creating her new publication, Black By God: The West Virginian. This CJR article goes a little more in-depth on Crystal's vision and process of listening to her potential audience.

 To be honest, I feel like I could fully launch Black by God tomorrow, if I wanted to make it a paper for the progressive white community in West Virginia and outside and have their support. But I have to do the thinking to meet with the people in the Black communities, to tell the stories that they want. I think that the support is there, from the traditional news folks. But I’m trying to reach the community that might not be in those portals.

I’m ambitious about eventually dropping this in print or a zine, to start to build a relationship and a knowledge about what I’m doing. One of the hard parts is that people don’t understand the need for community journalism and/or Black journalism. They don’t understand the information gap, because you can’t miss something you’ve never had. A lot of the work that I’m doing right now is just let me show you

Good and the other students in the first year of the program have been presented with a lot of ideas, business models and theories about what could work for them as they attempt to transform existing publications or create their own.

I say "could" because there is no magic bullet here. Each publication is different. Each community is different. What works in one may not work in another. As you can read in the CJR article, Crystal makes an extremely good point when she says, "To be honest, I feel like I could fully launch Black by God tomorrow, if I wanted to make it a paper for the progressive white community in West Virginia and outside and have their support."

But that's not her target audience. Reaching that audience and gaining trust with that audience will take much more work, but it is work that Crystal is not shying away from.

As Crystal says in the article, "...there’s a lot of work to be done that allows for Black leadership, that allows for Black voices to have their own microphones, not the microphone passed to them and then taken back."

There is still plenty of time to join the second cohort of NewStart students. The next group will begin the journey at the end of June. For more information about the program, send me an email and I'd be happy to walk you through the details and the enrollment process. You can always get more information at, as well.

Sure, I'll Give You My Email Address... ;)

Hey, newsletters are all the rage, right? You've got your Substacks and your Ghosts and your Mailchimps and your plethora of emails sent directly from media outlets to subscribers across the country.

Why are newsletters the hype product right now? First and foremost, they provide you with a direct connection to your audience. There are no pesky social media algorithms to get in the way. It is a simple process, where people give you their email address and say, "I like you. Send me your content!" And sometimes these people will even PAY YOU to do it.

Crazy, I know. It almost seems too good to be...
... true.

A new company called Radr touts itself as "a paywall for your email."

Now, for those of you who just created an entire business model around newsletters, this is not the time to throw your computer out of the window.

It's not as bad as it sounds. Really.

Well, at least not yet.

Radr has been designed to help people filter out all of the unsolicited business connection emails they receive (think random LinkedIn connection requests, but via email). The folks at Radr feel that if those solicitors really, really want to get your attention, they better be willing to pay you for your time and effort. 

Radr says you set the price, and they take a small percentage (6%, but 1% goes to a charity) and tack on a credit card fee.

It's not a newsletter killer, but you can see where this may be headed. Would the general public rally around the idea of locking down their inboxes and making companies pay up for access? Interesting concept, and one that could put a crimp in the models for the Substacks of the world.

Meanwhile, Digiday came out with an article this week entitled, "Why temporary email apps could disrupt identity tech and publishers’ first-party data strategies."
Burner emails, trash emails, throwaway emails or temporary emails — whatever the name, Google’s Play store offers at least 60 apps, many of which are free, that generate randomized email addresses and enable email verification. These technologies are promoted to people as ways to reduce unwanted marketing messages or enable a way to register to view content or get discounts without worrying about disseminating a personal or business email address out into the data universe. 
Right now, registration walls are great ways for publications to collect email addresses in order to go after digital subscriptions further down the reader revenue funnel, and they can bolster the ability to serve high-value targeted ads. But if these types of apps catch on, this could put a major dent in those plans.
Poor data quality and subscription fraud enabled by email-based registrations are just what one large media conglomerate that works with CLV Group, a management consultancy that specializes in data and identity, “are trying to avoid,” said CLV’s CEO Neil Joyce. He said his media firm client employs a single sign-on technology that supplies an ID for people, rather than asking them to submit their own email as their login. The company “are very clear about single sign-on being generated by them,” he said. 
Clearly this will be something to keep an eye on throughout 2021.

RELATED: Matt Brown, of the Extra Points NCAA Newsletter, On Why He's Leaving Substack

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Quick Hits

Here is a lot of informative news from around the world of local journalism. Enjoy! 

Learn: "Can produce local journalism that thrives in a small market? News entrepreneur Steve Novotney plans to find out." "Publishers shouldn’t be thinking about how they can capture ad dollars versus subscriptions. Instead, they need to be thinking about both. Use the data you’ve acquired building your subscription business over the past few years to reinforce your advertising business. And if you’re not already doing that, start now." "All together, Spector monetizes the newsletter five different ways. He didn’t roll out all these business models simultaneously, but instead gradually introduced them along with extensive testing and iteration. Here’s how he approached each model." "Since Press Gazette’s first 100k Club report was published in December, we have discovered increases of 20% or more across five publishers – Telegraph Media Group, Bloomberg Media, Insider Inc, National Geographic and a financial news division of Dow Jones – over varying periods. We have also added four new entrants to the league table: newsletter platform Substack, local US news publisher Lee Enterprises, Canada’s Globe and Mail, and Investor’s Business Daily, which is due to become part of News Corp later this year." Last week WAN-IFRA released a report covering “World Press Trends” for 2020 and 2021. In 97 pages of insights and charts, the report explores a variety of topics like revenues growth, print vs digital, COVID, advertising or diversity. We have selected 6 key charts from the report that you shouldn’t miss. "Although Facebook’s mistake seems innocuous enough, for the towns located around Bitche, local Facebook pages serve as the main form of communication. Shutting the page down effectively creates a local news blackout. When Rohrbach-les Bitche—a nearby town in the region—heard about the deletion, it quickly rid 'lès-Bitche' from its Facebook page name to avoid a similar fate." "Newsrooms will be able to create networks where they can share stories, photos, videos, etc. around topics as specific as a single storm or as broad as something like gun control or climate change." "Texas made headlines last month when it lifted all restrictions including its state-wide mask mandate, but industry sources say most businesses are still upholding safety rules that go beyond government requirements — and so far, consumer demand seems to be onside."  "In this session, Ryan Sager breaks down how to find sponsorships for your newsletter and how to price your sponsorship spots to stay competitive."

This An' 'At: "The Tucson Weekly, Inside Tucson Business and Explorer have been sold to a Phoenix-area newspaper chain. Times Media Group has demonstrated a pattern of buying small publications and cutting staff even further." "Fourteen complaints were filed or announced by publishers from Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Mississippi, New Jersey, Indiana, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware. The claims follow a pioneering January 2021 antitrust suit against Google and Facebook filed by HD Media, a West Virginia-based newspaper company that publishes the Pulitzer Prize winning Charleston Gazette-Mail and (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch." “Appropriating the newspaper is tied to non-news practices which are meaningful to the actors, although they might seem trivial to some scholars.” "The same day I asked for my savings, Fearless Leader John Cullen reported that we broke even in March. It was driven by a subscription increase of about 70%, almost all digital. Print circulation remains strong. Saints be praised! We had seen steady growth in circulation since last May, but it was not enough to cover our steep loss in advertising revenue. We appealed to readers and they responded. The trend held through April, and we pray it will going forward. Thank you. It makes me blow my nose."


That's all for this week. 

You can follow NewStart on Twitter @wvunewstart, and you can @ me @jimiovino. You can follow us on the Facebooks here.

Interested in supporting our students in Year 2 and beyond? I'd be happy to talk! Wouldn't it be great to offer more fellowships and scholarships? You can help!

As always, you can find NewStart online at

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