Crunch Time For Scoop.co.nz - An Open Letter To Our
Laying It All Out There Part 1: An Open
Letter To Scoop Supporters And Readers - And To NZ's
Laying It All Out There Part 1: An Open Letter To Scoop Supporters And Readers - And To NZ's Professional Communications Community
TL/DR VERSION: ADDRESSED ESPECIALLY TO SCOOP'S PROFESSIONAL READERS AND THE ORGANISATIONS WHO SUBMIT MATERIAL TO US TO PUBLISH.
Dear Scoop Readers,
This missive, and those that will follow in coming days are very important for professional communicators in NZ to think about. Scoop's services are not currently sustainable, and unless they become so in a relatively short space of time - we will be unable to continue to provide them.
Scoop provides two quality professional services for free to 1000s of NZ businesses and organisations:
#1. Reliable easily accessible access to professionally curated news intelligence information in real time;
#2. Free open access to publish press releases in a high profile manner.
It is now Crunch Time for Scoop.co.nz. With less than 2 weeks to go Scoop needs $23,500 in sales and donations to reach it’s PledgeMe Crowd-funding and Crowd-Selling target. For Scoop’s professional users it is also Crunch Time, and time to make a decision.
Subscription services to #1 (Business Intellgence Services) from other providers cost over $1k per year at a minimum. Providers of #2 (Press Release Distribution Services) with far lesser reach than Scoop, charge circa $200 per press release simply to send your press release out to an email list. Larger publications charge substantially more for "premium editorial placements", which Scoop provides for most organisations for free.
It is time to ask yourself if Scoop.co.nz were to close this summer would it be convenient to your organisation?
Would it cost you more money and time to have to find your own news intelligence or to pay to distribute your press releases?
And if the answer to either of these questions is yes then please act quickly and support our Crowd Sale and Crowd Funding campaign today. If the decision is not yours to make raise this with the people in your organisation who do have that responsibility.
To be crystal clear, I am not saying that we will definitely close if we do not reach our PledgeMe target, but staying open will not be easy if this crowd sale fails, in large part because of significant client cancellations in the Second Half of 2018. In addition the significant employee subsidy which supports the continued existence of this service - which is provided by a charitably owned company - is not sustainable.
have been clearly notified to all our professional users now
on multiple occasion via email and via the website. If
you continue to use Scoop, ignoring our conditions of use,
you are not just freeriding on the 100s of organisations who
are now paying to provide our service – but you are also
denying the staff who work at Scoop – a Charitably owned
organisation – both security and a living wage.
inclination as a communications manager or CEO of an
organisation which utilises Scoop.co.nz is to ignore this
message, and to use and allow your staff to continue to
freeride as a professional users of Scoop, then it is time
to consider the morality of your conduct.
If you continue to use Scoop, ignoring our conditions of use, you are not just freeriding on the 100s of organisations who are now paying to provide our service – but you are also denying the staff who work at Scoop – a Charitably owned organisation – both security and a living wage.
Finally, today and tomorrow I will be explaining in greater detail the background to Socop’s precarious financial situation. Its causes and what we have done to address it and the challenges we have faced, which are numerous. And in that respect Scoop is far from alone – if you haven’t noticed yet the entire NZ news industry is in a state of financial crisis. From what I can see – and those of you who know me will know that I watch these things closely - there are no profitable growing news businesses in NZ, a fact that even the industry is publicly acknowledging now – perhaps prompted by Scoop’s attempts to raise the subject in a high profile manner
I apologise for speaking so plainly about this.
But this really is the moment for people who care about the provision of public interest news publishing to stand up for what they say they are committed to.
Alastair Thompson, Scoop Co-Founder
Wednesday, 21 November 2018
Full Version: An Open Letter To Scoop Supporters And Readers
To: All Readers and Supporters of
From: Alastair Thompson, co-founder, former editor and director of Scoop Independent News
Dear Readers and Supporters,
For those of you who do not know who I am, a brief introduction.
I am the co-founder of NewsRoom.co.nz and Scoop.co.nz. From 1999-2015 I was the editor and general manager. I am now working overseas and continuing to support the Scoop crew in their battle to achieve sustainability and continue to provide the Scoop publishing service.
This open letter is directed at three groups of people [and if you know other people who are members of one or more of these groups please draw it to their attention, Tweet it, Link in on Linked in. Or post it to Facebook or Instagram. See links ^^ in the header of the page to do this with a simple click].
The three groups of people we want to reach are:
1. Our Readers: NZ readers of Scoop, who are legion, around 300,000 each month;
2. Our Supporters: The people who have supported Scoop over the past two decades and especially over the past three years during Operation Chrysalis, and there are a lot of you, at least 1000 financial supporters plus many more people who have supported us in other ways including the crew at the Enspiral Network, our former colleagues in the Scoop Media Cartel and our professional services suppliers many of whom have over the past few years been very understanding and supportive;
3. Our Professional Users: And perhaps most importantly it is addressed at those people who use Scoop in their professional lives. I.E.:
All NZ MPs and politicians (central and local government), public service chiefs, public service communicators, business leaders, board directors, senior staff within NGOs and civil society, arts administrators, foreign diplomats and missions, librarians, business intelligence companies, lawyers, accountants, reporters, editors, news producers, documentary makers, and perhaps - most obviously - all communications professionals, PR company principles, and writers.
The reason Professional Users of Scoop are being singled out for special attention in this letter is that it is Crunch Time for you as well as for Scoop. If you read on you will see what I mean – you are both the reason that Scoop exists – it is your use of the Scoop service that makes Scoop.co.nz worth supporting – and it is you who will miss out if Scoop comes to an untimely demise.
Obtaining the information that Scoop provides you now for free will cost money. And you will use your largest and most effective open access communication platform to the public, media, and decision makers.
The Scoop 3.0 PledgeMe is all about you. Its primary goal is to get you to stop freeriding, as my colleague - Scoop Co-Editor Joseph Cederwall - explained last week, and to sell a further 95 Scoop Licenses by Christmas – or at least in the early part of next year.
This will be sufficient to safely secure Scoop’s existence into the future – and to enable us to reinvest in the project, bring in new people, and potentially turn it back into a technology start-up which can help journalists in other parts of NZ and other parts of the world establish a sustainable business to practice journalism.
It Is Now Crunch Time For Scoop
Hopefully you are by now aware that Scoop is running a PledgeMe crowd-selling and crowdfunding campaign which has a target of raising $35,000 , and a secondary and arguably more important objective of selling 100 ScoopPro professional use licenses by Christmas.
With less than two weeks left to go, we are only one third of the way to our target.
And this is why it is now crunch time. We need everybody who either cares about the future of Scoop, or whose organisation might miss us if we disappear, to read this letter and as many as are willing and able to then Pledge.
If we can sell two licenses a day over the next 15 days then we will comfortably get to our goal. And this seems achievable given that we have around 5 already considering doing so.
By our calculations there are at least 1000 known professional organisations who should be ScoopPro essential licensed but who are not.
But if we cannot reach our goal - then due to circumstances explained below, and with a lean sales period of summer ahead - our continued existence is threatened.
And while we have said this before - for a variety of reasons which I explain in detail and complete transparency in coming days - this time our precariousness is very real. Internally the Scoop Team is tired and tapped out. And financially the decisions of several large existing clients- most notably the NZ Parliament - to cancel subscriptions to our professional services has left us with a substantial whole in our budget.
Practically Speaking What Does This Mean?
If you are a supporter of the Scoop project: If you have given to us in the past, then we need you to dig in again and Pledge towards our PledgeMe sooner rather than later. Our experience is that once we get close to the target then it gets easier to find more people to chip in.
If you work in Parliament and/or are an MP: Please lobby both your party leadership and the Parliamentary Library to continue to provide the Scoop Service inside Parliament. [NOTE: The total cost of the NewsAgent service which we have been providing to Parliament for several years, and which was cancelled in Steptember, leaving a sizeable whole in our budget (a bulk fee which makes the service available to all MPs, MP’s staff, Parliamentary Services and Ministerial Services staff – and for which there were 500 active users in September) is $28,000 per year = $76 per day (for all of Parliament) or $56 per user per annum (15 cents per day). ]
And if you are a professional user of Scoop.co.nz, or work for an organisation that makes professional use of Scoop: Please arrange for your organisation to Pledge for an annual ScoopPro Essential License and receive 30% off (alternatively contact firstname.lastname@example.org and speak to Scoop Business Development Manager Steven Wood).
And if you are an advertising or PR professional and/or a corporate CEO or marketing manager looking to have your brand associated with an innovative battling, ethical news provider, with a deep history and potentially a great future, then please take a look at the three new Scoop Sponsorship opportunities that we have just launched – they are definitely a one off opportunity, priced at a very attractive price point. [NOTE: With a gang of three sponsors on board before Christmas – the future of Scoop.co.nz can be assured for another year].
It Is Time For Scoop’s Professional
Users To Stop Freeriding
SOLUTION IS SIMPLE!
It Is Time For Scoop’s Professional Users To Stop Freeriding
Scoop’s business model is what we call an “Ethical Paywall”.
The fee for these licences are very reasonable and start at a few hundred dollars a year. And right now if your organisation purchases its license before December 3rd it will get it for 30% off.
And the Value Scoop Provides Is Considerable – Services Like Scoop Are Usually Pay To Access or Pay To Publish – Scoop’s “Ethical Paywall” approach however keeps us open to all.
Scoop provides the largest, most comprehensive and deepest publicly accessible database of NZ news intelligence information on the web. At last count close to 1 million live pages.
But that is not all that Scoop provides its professional users with, Scoop also provides many of you with your most reliable and most effective outbound digital communications channel. For free. Scoop reaches 20,000 users per day, and sends out 10s of 1000s of targeted news alerts every day.
Open access news portals are one of the fastest growing segments of publishers (especially in academia), but so-called “open access” news portals are only open to users. The model they use is to charge to publish content – which inevitably makes their publication coverage less useful and less credible, many also have small or non-existent readerships and gullible clients.
Scoop by contrast curates your content for free, because we publish it in real time and have done for so long – Scoop is used by pretty much everybody in NZ as a source of raw news material – including the news media, and we have a reputation for reliability earned over a 19 year period of consistent service provision.
Because we are not a “pay to play” publish publisher, Scoop is able to choose to publish material that is newsworthy from real sources, and unlike other publishers in the NZ News Market who publish a fraction of the Press Release content that we publish, Scoop is open to the public. All our material is accurately tagged, indexed and the source is clearly identified. We also provide a free to access high quality full-text search engine to search it. And we even provide you with a page where all the content from your organisation can found in one place, and which - if you subscribe to a ScoopPro premium service – enables you to provide your contact details and web and social links on your content.
However We Have A Problem – Not Enough People Are Paying, Creating A Freeriding Problem
While everybody will lose a little if Scoop has to close up shop – the organisations whose staff presently use us professionally will lose the most.
A group of managers in North Africa in WWII, as depicted in the movie Catch 22
Scoop’s Catch 22 – Reaching A Senior Management Audience With A Low Cost Message
While for readers and supporters, Scoop provides a means of visibly seeing accountability in NZ society, and therefore seen by many as providing a public good, for Scoop’s professional at work users – who make up the vast bulk of daily 20,000 users – Scoop provides a tool which is routinely used to do their job – for which they are paid.
For organisations that use us professionally we therefore provide a private good – and that is why we are focussing our efforts to finance our service on that group.
Scoop’s audience research shows that we have a significant portion of our readership at senior management and director level. This is not that surprising as often the users of Scoop within an organisation who most value Scoop.co.nz as a news source, are those who require timely breaking news.
With this letter I am hoping to break through that ceiling.
While a large number - 200+ organisations so far - have joined ScoopPro as licensed organisations, and we are very grateful to those organisations, far more have not. We estimate that at least 1000 organisations – many of which are large – have not even considered becoming compliant.
NOTE: Not all professional organisations using Scoop.co.nz are easily identifiable - as many networks are now deliberately masked or aggregated within their ISP traffic data. But here is a sample of some of the larger organisations using Scoop - the numbers to the right of the name are user numbers over a 2 month period. Note also that some of these organisations do have ScoopPro licenses.
In Large Organisations, Use Of Scoop Is Distributed
Scoop’s analysis of usage patterns by IP address shows that in many organisations Scoop is used by a large number of people from time to time. This again is expected. If someone is not directly involved in communications or external relations they might only use Scoop occasionally, when some news they are interested breaks, or when when someone they know of or a competitor announces something, or perhaps even just when they are new contact’s name and title in order to set up a meeting.
But our logs show that in many a substantial organisations, like Universities, or a Local Authorities or large corporates, then over the organisation as a whole, use adds up. Whenever you or your colleagues want to research an organisation, a news story, or an individual you can do so on Google because Scoop.co.nz is publishing and curating NZ’s raw news stream in real time and archiving it to be used for research.
A selection of NZ Govt. organisations using Scoop.co.nz professionally in a reasonably large manner.
N.B: Not all professional organisations using Scoop.co.nz are easily identifiable - as many networks are now deliberately masked or aggregated within their ISP traffic data. But here is a sample of some of the larger organisations using Scoop - the numbers to the right of the name are user numbers over a 2 month period. Note also that some of these organisations do have ScoopPro licenses already.
To all of the professional organisations using Scoop we therefore want to send an important message:
Scoop.co.nz costs money to produce – and unless we can secure sufficient funds to provide this service - it will end. At present there is a very large employee subsidy to provide the service, this is unsustainable - and has been now for more than a decade.
Scoop had hoped that our clearly explained approach to how we charge, why we charge, and what we will use any profits for (if we make any) – i.e. public interest journalism – would result in time (we started telling this story in 2015) in a reasonable level of compliance. However it hasn’t as of yet done so.
To the 200+ organisations who are compliant, we are enormously grateful and pleased to have you on board. However we still need around 100 more to safely get our finances comfortably into the black.
Realising that this will be a tall order to achieve now before Christmas this week we have added to our Crowd Sale three premium sponsorship opportunities, suitable to larger organisations promotional budgets, which are similar - but we think considerably better priced than similar products offered by NewsRoom.co.nz and TheSpinOff.co.nz, if we manage to sell these before the end of the year, they will be sufficient to fully cover our current budget shortfall.
Scoop Co-Founder, Former Editor and Director
In the subsequent parts of this open letter I will reveal more of the story of the effort that has gone into keeping Scoop.co.nz online this past nearly 2 decades. Its a been quite a voyage!