Voice of San Diego is “is a nonprofit, independent and insightful online newspaper focused on issues impacting the San Diego region.” Their purpose is “to consistently deliver ground-breaking investigative journalism for the San Diego region, “ as well as to encourage and to equip citizens to become advocates for fair government and progress. (VSD, 2009) Buzz Woolley, a former businessman who now serves on the board of directors, founded the organization in 2004 to combat the corruption he viewed in local government.

According to VSD’s media kit, the audience is 52% men and 48% women, with 34% over the age of 55 and 44% between 35 and 54. About half work in private enterprise, with the remainder being fairly evenly split between government/military, education, retired, and “other.” It is a highly-educated audience: 40% hold a bachelor degree and 37% have an advanced degree; all but 2% have at least some college. 37% make between $50-$100K per year, and 35% make more than $100K. It is also a highly localized audience: 85% of the readers live either in the city or county of San Diego.

According to the LA Times, VSD has an annual budget of $825,000, which mostly goes toward the salaries for its 11 journalists. VSD is primarily funded by donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations in the community. There are three different levels of membership: general membership, editor’s circle, and founder’s circle, each with different benefits; according to their media kit, they currently have 750 individual members. VSD holds themed online drives 4 times per year, which serves as both a way to raise money and strengthen relationships. They follow up with paper mailings. (Gustafson, 2009) VSD also receives support from 5 foundations and generates additional revenue through banner ads; advertising packages cost $750, $1,000 or $2,500 per month.

Voice of San Diego’s presence is entirely online, with 1.2 million page views per month and 72,000 unique visitors. Readers can subscribe to each of their channels through RSS feeds; they have a page to define RSS, help readers understand how to subscribe, and even where to find News Readers. However, outside of their website, the do not have much of an online presence. Their Facebook page has only 13 members, with no image and a poorly-written description. Though they report on Twitter, there is no indication that they themselves use it. Given their target audience, social media may not be the most effective way to spread their presence, but as the older demographics become more familiar with social media, it would not hurt to ramp up their efforts.

Some potential challenges are that the poor economy might leave some donors to close their wallets. However, with traditional newspapers closing, one can only imagine that VSD’s readership will increase in the future. Simultaneously, newspapers’ closure leads increased online competition; the San Diego News Network is one of these (Smillie, 2009). Another challenge is figuring out where and how to best allocate funds; in the past this has included adding new sections or expanding upon existing coverage. (Gustafson, 2009)

Because VSD is entirely online, it is easy for them to track visitors and page views, making these valuable metrics to advertise to potential advertisers. They can also keep track of how many people email articles and how many people subscribe to RSS feeds. With every fundraising campaign, VSD asks how it has enriched people’s lives, making them more likely to give. (Gustafson, 2009)

References:

Gustafson, Camile (Director of Development at Voice of San Diego): personal correspondence July 20, 2009

Rainey, James (2009) “At Voice of San Diego, a newsroom flourishes” Los Angeles Times retrieved July 17, 2009 http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/15/nation/na-onthemedia15

Smillie, Dirk (2009) “San Diego News Shoot-Out.“ Forbes. Retrieved July 21 from http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/05/internet-advertising-newspapers-business-media-san-diego.html

Advertisements