An Important Message To Professional Users Of Scoop
From Scoop co-founder Alastair Thompson
Dear professional users of Scoop,
First, thank you to all our newsagent subscribers and accredited professional organisations. This message is not addressed to you.
The professional licence fees paid by Scoop's 140 accredited organisations are the reason Scoop remains online. 90% of the costs of maintaining Scoop are now being met sustainably. This is good news. But with only 90% of our costs being met, we are not quite there yet.
Like all news media Scoop has been seriously impacted by the news crisis, a crisis brought about by disruption to advertising markets. In September 2015 after nine months of Operation Chrysalis, Scoop became a charitably owned social enterprise as part of our effort to respond to this crisis.
With generous support from member donations Scoop has since undergone a complete business model transformation. We needed to move away from our reliance on fickle advertising revenue. Over a period of 2.5 years we have moved from 70% advertising funding, to 0% advertising funding.
An Appeal For You To Take Action Today!
As of today, with just four days to go Scoop's latest crowdfunding campaign on PledgeMe remains $13,000 short of its target. If we fail to reach this, Scoop's survival will be threatened.
So far 216 Scoop members have pledged towards our campaign. But it is not the intended role of Foundation Members to support Scoop's core publishing activities with donations. Their support should only be needed to help cover our transition.
Scoop's core press release publishing operation is for the most part used by professional news users - people who access Scoop seeking information for business and work purposes. Our provision of comprehensive and timely information over the past 17 years has helped oil the wheels of commerce and Government. The value of this service is shown in our 500,000 readers - a sizeable portion of whom access the Scoop website while at work from business network domains.
Is Your Organisation Using Scoop Legally?
In 2015 Scoop launched a way to make this work as a product, our "Ethical Paywall".
Two years on from the launch we have convinced organisations of most kinds – Govt. Departments, Universities, ITPs, law firms, accountancy and consultancy firms, PR companies, NGOs, councils and even NZ's Parliament – to sign on to what we believe is an equitable way to recover the costs of providing the Scoop.co.nz service.
Today we have made it possible for organisations who would like to assist Scoop's campaign to pledge towards our "Opening The Election" crowd-funding campaign in return for discounted six-month professional use licences - provided as a PledgeMe rewards. The special licenses come in four sizes, at never to be repeated introductory prices:- tiny, up to 3 staff, $75 (usually $210)
- small, up to 50 staff, $200 (usually $420)
- medium, up to 500 staff, $400 (usually $600-$1000)
- large, up to 2000 staff. $600 (usually $1000-$1500)
Bottom line, it costs money to maintain Scoop.co.nz, and at present those costs are not being met. We have to recover those costs – or shut up shop. We have deployed and marketed what we think is an equitable and fair way to do this, and 140 New Zealand organisations have already agreed to contribute. We hope you and your organisation will swiftly join them.
The nature of the news crisis is such that unless businesses and professional organisations take responsibility for their need to support the provision of quality information services, they will find themselves in the dark.
For ease of use the remainder of this message is in FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) format. I trust this will assist in answering any specific questions you may have.
Scoop Professional Use - FAQ QUESTIONS:
- Who is a professional user of Scoop?
- What is Scoop's Ethical Paywall?
- Who is required to pay to use Scoop?
- Who is not required to pay to use Scoop?
- How many professional Scoop users are there?
- How many Scoop contributors are there?
- Why don't you just charge organisations for submitting press releases?
- What are Scoop's financial circumstances?
- What will Scoop do with additional money?
I am happy to answer any further questions you have via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, if you are not the correct person in your organisation to address this message to. Please send it on to them.
Scoop Professional Use - FAQ ANSWERS
Who is a professional user of Scoop?
You or your organisation are a professional users of Scoop if you either rely on us regularly to access timely information and news, or you rely on us to publish your press releases to our broad and influential readership of 500,000 readers each month.
What is Scoop's Ethical Paywall?
Scoop's terms and conditions of use require professional users of Scoop to purchase a Scoop End User [Organisation] Licence. The licence fees depend on the size of the organisation and start at $420 per year. We call it an "Ethical Paywall" because business users who obtain direct benefit from our service are paying for the costs of providing access to a high quality news service to the general public.
As many of these organisations are also submitting us their press releases; and benefiting from our publication of them to our readership, there is a win-win outcome for the public interest from this arrangement.
The word Ethical is derived from "Fair Trade" commerce where a disadvantaged part of the supply chain is addressed. In this case there are two disadvantaged parts to the news supply chain. News consumers who would otherwise not have access to news and news producers who would otherwise be unable to support their operations. Scoop's "Ethical Paywall" is a world first. You can read more about it in this presentation made to the Law Librarians association.
Who is required to pay to use Scoop?
Scoop's ethical paywall applies to organisations whose staff routinely use Scoop.co.nz content as part of their professional working roles.
If staff in your organisation:
- read Scoop to keep informed about what is going on in your area of business;
- read Scoop to keep informed about your competitors activities;
- search Google for material related to work, and regularly access material from Scoop's large database;
- subscribes to a paid media-monitoring service or subscriber newsletter which provides you with links to Scoop material;
- send us press releases for publication and then link to them in social media and email links to contacts.
Then you or your organisation requires a professional use license.
Who is not required to pay to use Scoop?
You are not
required to have a licence to use Scoop if:
- You are a member of the public who accesses Scoop in your own time for the purposes of being well informed;
- Your organisation is a purely voluntary organisation;
- You are a student;
How many professional Scoop users are there?
Scoop's Google analytics[*] tell us Scoop is read by between 60,000 and 70,000 New Zealand readers each week, 300,000 each month. 75% of Scoop's web traffic occurs during work hours – from 8am to 6pm. It is probable that a portion of the out-of-hours use of Scoop – including readers on mobile phones 40% of total traffic – is also work related.
Last week Scoop's New Zealand based readers accessed the website from 1300 different network domains, including 987 ".nz" and 95 ".com". The vast bulk of these domains belong to places of work with dedicated networks. Last week's domains included, 44 academic institutions, 4 Crown Research Institutes, 48 Govt agencies, 584 different .co.nz domains, 213 .net.nz domains and 33 .org.nz domains.
Last week Scoop's New Zealand readers accessed 24,544 unique pages. As roughly 4000 pages are published each month, this indicates heavy use of Scoop's database of older material, being accessed for research purposes,
[*] Google Analytics can only identify details about traffic from domains that are identified.
How many Scoop contributors are there?
Scoop has 23,000 different organisational names in its byline database.
Over the past two years we have compiled a list of the people who regularly submit us professional content to publish. As of today that list has 4889 names and email addresses on it. As many of these people are from PR agencies they can represent more than one organisation.
Why don't you just charge organisations for submitting press releases?
It is true that there are many online services that charge for either publishing or distributing press releases. Scoop does not do so as it is the comprehensiveness of our content stream that makes our service useful and which attracts the large and influential audience that encourages people to submit content to us. In addition, if we were to charge for the publication of Press Releases we would no longer be curating them on the basis of their being newsworthy.
I.E. it is because Scoop does not charge for publishing press releases that we are able to both obtain and curate a set of press releases which is useful to the public, and the publication and archival of which is in the public interest.
Organisations can however pay for have social media links, logos and additional information about their organisation to be added to all their releases. Scoop is presently considering providing a basic level of this Infopages service to accredited organisations.
What are Scoop's financial circumstances?
Details of Scoop's financial circumstances were disclosed in my "Appeal To All Friends Of Scoop" published last week. This was also published in the form of an FAQ.
Why don't you just cut costs & stem the losses? Why should Scoop receive public support at all? Why can't you support yourselves with commercially derived revenue? Spinoff.co.nz and NewsRoom.co.nz are getting money, why aren't you? How is the Ethical Paywall going then? Ok then, but what about now? How big is the shortfall now? Ahem, how big is the shortfall?
Executive Summary: After two years of transitioning from advertising to a fully subscription and license based business model we are 90% of the way to achieving break-even. Our business development team believes we are around 100 licence sales away from achieving sustainability.
What will Scoop do with additional money it earns?
As Scoop returns to sustainability, and eventually to profit, it will reinvest funds in improving the service provided to users. We would like to increase our editorial staff and publish more original journalism.
We also have a backlog of technical improvements to make the website more attractive, accessible and useful for readers. At present 40% of Scoop's readers are accessing the site via phone or tablet, and improving the reading performance for these users is a priority.
Thanks to public donor support this work has started in recent months with the first fruit being the launch of a new mobile friendly Scoop website - in Beta – at m.scoop.co.nz. The new website makes use of Google's accelerated mobile pages technology and is blisteringly fast. In coming months we will migrate mobile traffic directly to the new mobile website.
And once Scoop is profitable it will return dividends to the Scoop Foundation for Public Interest Journalism, which will in turn provide grants to, and support activities that encourage the practice of public interest journalism.