The future of Open and free reader-supported journalism?

THE FUTURE OF IRISHCYCLE.COM: While times are uncertain for many, this website needs to be put on a sustainable footing to survive and be able to cover cycling, especially with a planned massive increase in funding.

Here’s answers to questions readers have posed, and some more questions for supporters of the website… some of this has been covered before, but it’s worth refining…. 

What is A news and opinion website covering cycling. Mainly as a form of transport and greenways, and aiming to cover issues across Ireland. Key to how looks at cycling is from a lens of cycling for all ages and abilities, and that while cycling cannot solve every problem it can help solve many issues from inactivity to pollution to giving more transport choice. There’s an aspect of campaigning journalism

What’s the problem? There’s too much to cover about cycling and related issues. The longer the site has gone on and the larger it has become, the more work there is just to maintain it, for example there’s a growing amount of emails to reply to, stories to follow up on, and other background issues to deal with.

What’s the solution? How would it be funded? A reader-supported website funded by people who see the value of having this website free and open. More time means more coverage from all over Ireland, time for investigate stories, tracking issues, time for articles both large and small, and working on the on-going process of getting a range of comment writers from different people.

There’s various example of such reader-supported models large and small which have a different blend of funding — The Guardian and Bike Portland with reader-support and advertising; Second Captains and Dublin Inquirer with no advertising but content behind a paywall; Strong Towns with more than just podcasts and articles; StreetFilms focuses on video; the Currency with niche content behind a paywall etc.

Can newspapers etc not do that? / Wouldn’t it be better if newspapers did that? Even in places where cycling as transport gets better coverage in the mainstream media, there’s still websites and podcasts covering the detail of the issues involved.

Is that not preaching to the converted? Since when is preaching to the converted not needed? also reaches more than just the converted.

What about an advertising element? Advertising can complicate things in a number of ways including making readers less likely to contribute financial support; cause apparent or real conflicts of interests; and be labour intensive when targeted. But, for now, we will look at a “business level” of reader support which might look less like advertising.

Questions to be answered… with your help?…

Do you value paying but having the website open? Would you support financially if content was open for all to read?

What’s the best legal setup for Do you have any thoughts?

For payments, is Stripe or Patreon or PayPal better? Some people have indicated a dislike for PayPal, while there’s higher fees on Patreon. Is Stripe the solution? Has anybody experience using it?

We’ll also be looking at tax and accounting issues etc. But those issues are best left to professionals in those areas, unless there’s readers with experience of running websites etc?

One person suggested a podcast on active travel in Ireland… have you any suggestions along those lines?

Anything else? What other questions are we not thinking about?

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