Understanding Revenue Models in The Business Sustainability of Web-Indigenous Journalism: A Pragmatist Approach

Cook, Clare Elizabeth orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5063-6013 (2021) Understanding Revenue Models in The Business Sustainability of Web-Indigenous Journalism: A Pragmatist Approach. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This synoptic commentary explores the challenge of economic sustainability for web-indigenous
journalism in the long tail. The work’s most general claim is that drawing attention to workable revenues
is illuminating because without money, news media can’t make journalism. My work offers a
unique panorama, spanning a pivotal decade of emergent economic practice, of sites in multiple environments
at the edge of media systems, often operating in commercially weak niches: start-ups
globally, hyperlocals in Europe, and those in politically pressured environments or in exile. Drawing
from this internationally rich set of empirical data, the contribution to new knowledge is to define,
detail and categorise diversified revenues. Such a springboard allows investigation into the evolving
nexus of economic practice and advances the understanding of economic sustainability. A set longterm
revenue model is fictitious, and many are still fragile. A small degree of revenue diversification
is effective, but alone does not result in sustainability. Advertising dominates and deviation to other
income is done through experimentation. Unlike corporate legacy and mainstream media, my work
details how web indigenes carve out sustainability through a process of niche adaptation, resulting in
heterogeneous revenue models. The synoptic commentary defends the pragmatist approach as a
compelling lens through which to explore practice-led research, adding methodological renewal
through multiple ways of coming to know. I have contributed by knitting together different practices,
frameworks and theories at multiple levels of scale and inquiry, to uncover new knowledge in the
media management landscape. These findings provide fresh insights to scholars and practitioners
seeking a route-map for sustainable journalism in the long tail.

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