The podcast, Mass Marijuana, “a show about the growing pains in the newly legal cannabis industry in the state of Massachusetts.” Mass is a clever pun both in terms of legal marijuana use coming to the masses and also Mass being an abbreviation and nickname for Massachusetts.
Unlike a lot of professionally produced podcasts that have grown out of public radio in the US, this one is produced by a local TV station in the Boston area. Lead producer Dalton Main said:
As cannabis became legal, we were covering stories constantly. My job was to take the interviews and stories created every day and weave them into a larger overarching narrative. I got to read between the lines and connect the dots of the daily news pieces. It was very fun.
The two lessons that stood out for me were, one obvious one, that they tapped into an identifiable, and I would argue a well-known niche. A niche focus is important, if not critical, in several digital media formats whether that is a podcast, newsletter or blog. Number two, they tapped into a wealth of coverage that they are were already doing. And three, they also mined their own archives.
Keep those suggestions coming to me on Twitter, @kevglobal. As the newsletter grows subscribers, sharing international media stories with me and others will make it even better.
But where some of the newer scripted podcast producers are eyeing the big checks that platforms such as Luminary are writing, Slate sees them as a way to build its own business. Kammerer said that while Slate has had discussions with podcast platforms about licensing or producing exclusive shows for platforms, it has declined to pursue them because it is more interested in using its shows to build Slate Plus.
And I also want to highlight Reach PLC (formerly Trinity-Mirror and also a former client of my consultancy, Ship’s Wheel Media) and their efforts to try to bring some comity to the discussions around Brexit with their Britain Talks project. Their efforts to engage audiences, not only with their journalism but also in broader issues, really impresses me, and I appreciate more than most the challenging business environment that they are operating in.
As someone who has cobbled together a lot of third party tools and down-right messy kludges to do something editorially on a tight deadline, I resemble the criticism in the top story in my newsletter today.
It was and still is very satisfying to use a third-party service, WordPress plug-in or some weird template you found on a random site to deliver something digitally interesting, but there are costs to taking shortcuts like this. And this is becoming obvious as strategies shift from ad-focused to reader revenue-led.
But here is the rub: To properly implement some of these systems takes a lot of cash, cash which small and medium publishers simply don’t have. From the article in Digiday:
Google’s and Facebook’s subscription products also remain too cumbersome for small or midsize publishers. One year after launching Subscribe with Google with 17 publisher partners, around four dozen publishers have begun integrating the product into their operations, but fewer than 20 have fully implemented it.
Also today, we look at other ways that content publishers are trying to find a path to sustainability, whether that is through paid content for podcasters, foundation support for local journalism or content marketing for businesses and brands. Here’s just a sample:
How to stop being a ‘carrier’ in the age of misinformation. The agenda of a free press? A functioning democracy. Buzzy, premium podcast service stumbles out of the gates. Seattle newspaper partners with local foundation for funding.
If you spot a good story about the business of media, especially digital, feel free to send it to me @kevglobal on Twitter. If you don’t get my international media newsletter in your inbox, you can get a taste of it and subscribe here.