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PinkNews

There’s never been a time when robust LGBT+ media is more needed, that’s why we’re launching MyPinkNews

Benjamin Cohen July 17, 2020
We're launching MyPinkNews, at a time when LGBT media is needed most

There has never been a time when robust, meaningful LGBT+ media has been more needed.

It’s hard to escape this fact when reading the latest articles on PinkNews. But this has come during a time when the business model, advertising – which has funded PinkNews for 15 years – has been ravaged by the impact of COVID-19.

That’s why we’re launching MyPinkNews, a new paid-for membership programme to put core PinkNews readers at the heart of our content team. You can join here today.

It’s not just PinkNews which has been affected by COVID-19. BuzzFeed UK has closed its entire news operation, ending its award-winning LGBT+ coverage. Vice has cut back its reporting levels considerably, particularly hitting coverage such as gender identity. The Guardian plans to cut 180 roles as it weathers the impact of the COVID induced storm. At the same time, mainstream media, from the newspapers to radio and TV news increasingly take an anti-LGBT+ and, in particular, anti-trans approach.

This is why well-funded and authentic LGBT+ reporting needs to be supported.

It’s also the case that many brands block advertising on LGBT+ related content, which leads to lower quality advertising alongside some of our content. I recognise that the PinkNews website has sometimes delivered a poor user experience – due to all the advertising!

So we needed to find another solution. More ads, to try and make up the losses and grow our coverage levels, wouldn’t help. One of the benefits of joining MyPinkNews is that you’ll see far fewer adverts on the website (we call this ‘ad-light’). This also helps us move away from being reliant on advertising for growth so we can concentrate on serving our paying users well.

We know that not all users will be able to pay for MyPinkNews, so the majority of our content will remain free to access, on an advertising-funded basis. We hope that those users who can afford will consider paying, to help fund the content for those who can’t pay themselves.

To help us navigate this unprecedented and difficult time, and to fund the launch of MyPinkNews, we decided to take a COVID Support Loan (CBILS) from our bank and guaranteed by the UK government.

CBILS are only issued to businesses that made a profit before COVID-19 and whose revenue have been adversely impacted – and we qualify on both counts. Many who are opposed to LGBT+ rights – and, in particular, trans rights – celebrated our taking of this support loan, wrongly thinking that this meant that PinkNews was on its way out. Some even mocked up fake headlines to mark the occasion.

We feel that introducing MyPinkNews is the best way to ensure that we can continue to deliver on our PinkNews mission statement. We exist to inform, inspire change and empower people to be themselves. Here’s what you can get with your membership:

  • An ad-light experience on the PinkNews website
  • Exclusive access to investigations and reportage before wider publication
  • Expert and exclusive analysis on the main topics of the day
  • The ability to comment on articles (launching August 2020)
  • Webinars and virtual meetings with the news team and those making LGBT+ headlines
  • The knowledge that you are supporting essential LGBT+ journalism
  • 10% off purchases at PinkNews.shop

Membership of MyPinkNews costs £50 a year, which is less than £1 a week for UK users. We will be charging $65 a year for US users and €65 a year for EU users.

Join MyPinkNews today by clicking here.

I wanted to answer some questions that you may have about why we are doing this and what the benefits will be of introducing MyPinkNews.

What type of content will MyPinkNews fund?

The type of content we will be investing in broadly splits into What? and Why? – or, in other words, investigations and analysis/commentary.

MyPinkNews users will be involved in the idea stage (through regular webinars) and get a first look at our investigations. These articles will also later be made available for our advertising-funded users.

MyPinkNews will commission analysis and commentary from a wide range of well-known and well-placed journalists and commentators. These articles are being commissioned to provide an informed ‘standing back approach’. They won’t focus on the literal daily news, but rather try and explain why what is happening is happening, provide context, as well as look towards what is likely to happen next. The vast majority of these articles will be made available for MyPinkNews users only.

Why isn’t PinkNews introducing a full paywall like other news websites?

We know from surveys that enough users would pay for our content to make a hard paywall make financial sense, but it conflicts with our mission statement.

We believe that to comply with the ‘inform’ part of our mission statement, the majority of our content must be free to access. It is the case that our content is also accessed by many young people, people from all around the world, and those whose financial circumstances would mean that they couldn’t afford to pay.

Therefore, we’d like to offer a value exchange for members. If you pay for MyPinkNews, you will get extra content and services, as well as an ad-light experience. By doing so, you will also be funding content for those users who can’t afford to pay.

Why not just sell more advertising?

Now is a very hard time to be selling advertising. The majority of the ads that you see are sold programmatically (through automated trading), which we feel offers users a poor experience. Also, many advertisers block their brands appearing next to LGBT+, particularly lesbian, related content. MyPinkNews users will not be shown display advertising aside from occasional public health or similar messaging. Content sponsorship will still be displayed, in a properly labelled and compliant form. MyPinkNews users who are accessing us via Facebook on mobile will still see some advertising, so for the best experience, visit our homepage or our soon to be launched mobile app.

How will commenting work?

We had to turn off the ability to make comments on the PinkNews website because of large levels of transphobia, homophobia and racism by trolls. Soon, any user will be able to read comments, but only paying MyPinkNews members will soon be able to post a comment. We will have clear rules relating to homophobia, transphobia, dead-naming, racism and any other kind of bigotry. Any MyPinkNews user who posts such inappropriate comments will have the ability to comment suspended, but will still be able to access other MyPinkNews content and services. Of course, we will pass on relevant personal details that we will hold to the police and other law enforcement agencies in the case of hate speech being posted.

Is PinkNews a business, how does it make money and why should I contribute through membership?

PinkNews is a business and I’m the largest and controlling shareholder. In the past 15 years, we have made a profit, but never taken a dividend as we have invested in growing the business and paying our staff a fair wage. To date, our income has been generated through advertising, sponsorship, product sales (from PinkNews.shop) and event ticket sales. We have not asked users to contribute before, but we think the time is right to start doing so.

We are in the process of registering PinkNews as a certified B-Corp. This means that we will guarantee the current balance between making a profit and our defined purpose. We have some corporate reorganisation to do first, but we intend to be recognised as a certified B-Corp in 2021, if not earlier.

If you have any questions on this do tweet me @benjamincohen and I’ll try to answer them! You can join MyPinkNews here.

More: LGBT media, MyPinkNews, PinkNews

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