Google, LION release a trio of reports for early stage digital newsrooms

Three significant reports came out this week that should be of interest to digital newsrooms.

The Project News Oasis database compiles information on 712 publishers just in the United States and Canada. This is kind of like when the yearbook came out: Go make sure your publication appears, and then take time to look over your colleague news entrepreneurs. (Yes, you can update your publication’s information.)

Once they found them, the researchers sent those newsrooms a couple of surveys and conducted one-on-one interviews with many publishers and founders. The results of that work are available as the Project Oasis research report. At 13 pages of content, it’s rather svelte, as these things go. One interesting paragraph:

Once they launch, nearly half allocate the majority of their budgets to editorial. The share of spending on revenue generation is low, with four in 10 spending less than 10% of their budgets raising funds. With their lean operations, spending is also low for technology and administration. About half of the newsrooms allocate less than 10% of their budgets to those areas.

It was also heartening to see the report encourage diversity, equity and inclusion, saying, “Not only will this strengthen community connections, but there is ample evidence linking staff diversity to greater profitability and innovation.”

Project Oasis is a collaboration between UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, LION Publishers, Douglas K. Smith and the Google News Initiative, with support from Michele McLellan. She created Michele’s List, which has been tracking independent publishers for more than a decade.

Perhaps more useful than academic, the organization were joined by the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, the Membership Puzzle Project and others to produce the Google News Initiative Startups Playbook.

It takes those who are startup-curious through some introspection and planning. While many Newspack publishers probably learned much of this the hard way, there might still be a few nuggets in there worth considering as you continue to grow.

For those bold enough to start a news operation, the playbook leads to a series of four “starter guides,” including how to grow and engage your audience. Again, you never know where you’re going to pick up some new tips.

The Google News Initiative, which is a funder of Newspack, also offers information on workshops and its six-month accelerator programs.