The Spinoff editor explains the thinking behind The Spinoff Members.
As anyone who has been following the story of the New Zealand media in 2019 will know, it’s stormy out there. Across the board, outlets, us included, are feeling the digital pinch. Advertising spends are down, and the lion’s share of what is being spent is merrily hoovered up by the global giants, Facebook and Google
We’ve never gone down the road of pay-per-click advertising on The Spinoff, not least because it incentivises the shallowest forms of journalism. Instead we’ve focused on sponsored sections, and we’re enormously grateful to those sponsors, without whom this website simply wouldn’t exist. But in the year of our fifth birthday, it’s increasingly challenging to fund the most important work we do under the existing model.
For those reasons, in June 2019 we launched The Spinoff Members. We said to our readers: if you’re a fan of The Spinoff, if you want us to do more and deeper journalism, become a member.
We’ve been hugely heartened by the enthusiastic response. Members’ contributions have allowed us to do a whole lot of work that otherwise would have been beyond our editorial budgets. That has so far included a couple of dozen pieces in a special series on climate change, and an all-singing, all-dancing local elections pop-up site, with the supercharged Policy comparison tool at its heart. We’ve been able to bring on board Morgan Godfery, one of New Zealand’s finest thinkers and writers, as a regular contributor. We’ve published expansive, agenda setting feature writing on Tuia 250. Most recently, the investigation by Dave Hansford into the Westport rats and the mystery lab (if you haven’t read it yet, do).
We’ve also opened a dialogue with members – asking which areas of coverage matter most, what we’re not doing enough of. We listen to what they tell us, and share that with our writers and editors (nb member participation is not compulsory; we promise not to nag).
Members can pay as much as they wish. If you contribute $80 or more a year, you’ll get the most useful collector’s item in New Zealand: a limited edition Toby Morris designed tea towel. All members can also get a special weekly World edition of our beloved Bulletin newsletter. But most of all you get the knowledge that you’re directly making important journalism happen, and keeping it free for all to read.
If you can, and if you’re not already, please consider helping us in that mission and becoming a Spinoff member. It’s super quick and easy to do: simply click right about here.