An update on The Membership Guide

Hey — earlier this year, we partnered with the Membership Puzzle Project to create The Membership Guide, a practical tool to help launch and sustain membership in news. When we created the Guide, we intended for it to be a living, regularly updated resource. We’re starting on that work now. Below, MPP’s Jay Rosen and Ariel Zirulnick will share an update on what’s next for The Membership Guide and share four ways you can help us. 

But before I turn it over to Jay and Ariel a couple quick notes: The Lenfest News Philanthropy Network, a new community of practice supporting fundraising in news, met recently to discuss strategies for year-end fundraising campaigns with experts from ProPublica and The News Revenue Hub. You can get a recap and watch a recording of that session — and sign up for our next workshop on setting your 2021 fundraising goals — here

We’ll be back next week with a normal issue of Solution Set. 

Now, here’s Jay and Ariel with an update on The Membership Guide:


Since we launched the Membership Guide on Sept. 16, more than 11,000 people in 138 countries have used it, racking up more than 37,000 page views. Twenty percent of the people who visit the Membership Guide are returning visitors.

We’ve tested the Guide as a basis for teaching some of the fundamentals of membership with co-publisher Lenfest Institute through their Membership 101 course, supporter Google News Initiative through their Digital Growth Program, and in the Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

On top of that, a team of journalists in Brazil volunteered to translate the Guide into Portuguese, and a team of Ukrainian journalists is doing the same in Ukrainian. 

We share all of this because we wanted to provide an update on where the Membership Guide goes from here. We’re fortunate to have funding for at least the next year to continue improving and adding to it. Here is what is on our roadmap:

  • Researcher Emily Roseman created the Audience Research Compass to help newsrooms choose the right audience research approach for their audience insight needs and organizational capacity. 
  • We’re using this fall’s teaching experiences to design an open-source membership curriculum that any journalism trainer can steal. One of our goals is to broaden the number of people around the world who feel empowered to teach the fundamentals of membership so that this work can continue when Membership Puzzle Project sunsets in August 2021.
  • Joseph Lichterman and Managing Editor Ariel Zirulnick joined Olivia Henry’s News Co-Op Study Group to inform our approach to a section on what it looks like to give ownership to your audience members. The idea for this section came out of our review committee. We originally planned to publish this fall, but decided to delay publication so that we could benefit from the knowledge of the group that Olivia has gathered for her project. 
  • The research team will convene in December to discuss what updates we should make to the guide in early 2021, including new case studies and updates to the handbook.

It’s a big undertaking, just like the Membership Guide’s creation was. The contributions of more than 60 individuals and newsrooms made that possible, and we hope you’ll continue to engage in this project so we can keep it current and intensely useful to newsrooms. There are a few ways that you can do that: 

  • Do you have suggestions for additions to the guide? Are there topics not covered in our advice for newsrooms? Is there a tactic that should be featured in our case studies? Do you want to see an update on something you read about? Let us know via this form before Dec. 8 so we can discuss them at our update meeting. 
  • Are you interested in partnering to translate this into other languages? Translating this immense resource is time and cost intensive. If you would like to explore ways to mutually support translation into your language, let us know.
  • Can you help us get the membership curriculum we’re working on this fall into the hands of journalism trainers? Are you leading membership efforts in a newsroom and want to begin teaching that to others, but aren’t sure where to start? Let’s talk. 
  • There’s always a difference between anticipated use and actual use. If you have a story about how you or your newsroom have used the guide, we’re eager to hear it.

You can reach us any time at [email protected]

Thank you for engaging with this work,

Jay Rosen
Director

Ariel Zirulnick
Managing Editor

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