In the past year, Next City’s audience has grown by 90 percent. Just the kind of up-and-to-the-right graph of growth we’re looking for. But the number of subscriptions to paywalled content? That looks more like a long tail.
It’s data like this that forced an in-house discussion about how to grow Next City as a sustainable media organization. Should we continue to keep our best content behind the paywall in order to earn a relatively small percent of our overall budget? Or should we drop the paywall, and seek that revenue from other sources, letting more people read the important articles our reporters are producing each week?
After months of grappling with the potential outcomes, we’ve decided to make all our content free and accessible to anyone on the Internet. We’ll keep it that way so long as we can afford to.
Our mission is to make change in cities. It seems to us that we will be most successful in doing so if we expand our content’s reach and deepen our influence. From today forward, anyone visiting our site can read all of the articles in our Forefront series, which was launched in April 2012 and encompasses more than 140 longform stories about the people, ideas and innovations on the front lines of progress in cities across the world. The series arguably contains our best reporting to date, along with original, commissioned artwork.
We believe this journalism serves a critical public interest and so, even as we refine our business model, we will continue to publish one longform article a week, with no changes to quality. These features will be integrated into our regular stream of daily content.
Now, whether we can afford not to charge for content largely depends on you. While several thousand of you paid $20 per year for access to Forefront, many more of you subscribed because you care about the organization and our mission to inspire change in cities.
You know, just like we know, that top-notch reporting and events with high-level thought leadership are expensive and that if you don’t support Next City, it could disappear. Every subscriber mattered to us and every one of you still does.
Next City needs your support so that every person who wants to learn more about how to improve their city isn’t turned away by a paywall, so every student who comes to our website can read our reporting for free, and so that you never get annoyed by having to login to read a story again! If every reader in just the month of December gave just $1, we could fund Next City’s content for all of 2015. Think about that, and know that no donation level is too little. And if you’re a true believer in what we do, become a sustaining member today and receive all the benefits of Next City’s membership.
Thanks for your continued support, and happy reading.