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INN Index Snapshot 2023: Growing resources lead to sector expansion

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Audience & Distribution

Web and email audiences stabilize

Core, year-over-year audience stats capture a general picture of stability for nonprofit news audiences. The majority of outlets surveyed primarily distribute coverage through their website (74%), with smaller cohorts primarily publishing over email newsletter (11%) and print (9%). 

A little over a third of outlets surveyed grew web audiences (measured as average monthly unique visitors) from 2021 to 2022, with a similar size cohort experiencing declines, and a quarter remaining steady year over year. Local outlets were the most likely type of news to experience web traffic increases, while national and global outlets were the least likely. 

For newsletter focused outlets, over half grew newsletter subscribers, over a third stayed steady, with a smaller percentage (7%) experiencing declines. 

The mission and type of coverage an outlet provides often dictates the organization’s audience and distribution strategy. Local outlets produce coverage for a single city, county or metro area, or even a cluster of neighborhoods or towns, and are most often focused on serving a population of 100,000 or less. Most local outlets focus on reaching audiences through their own, direct platforms — mostly over the web — because many operate in areas without other sources of high-quality news. Additionally, local outlets are finding success with building individual giving and earned revenue from direct audiences.

National and global organizations most often focus on investigative or explanatory reporting and often target audiences of multiple millions with their coverage. These larger organizations utilize third-party distribution more than their counterparts, building partnerships with other news sites, print publications and public radio to reach audiences beyond their own platforms. Maximizing their reach to a general audience and building their organization’s reputation, are the most cited goals for third-party publication. 

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