Months after the dramatic departure of Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept seeks to double down on its roots in accountability journalism by pursuing more donations from philanthropic donors and licensing deals and relying less on subscriptions, which have taken off in the Biden era.
why it matters: Greenwald’s departure helped the outlet focus on investigation rather than opinion, longtime editor-in-chief Betsy Reid tells Nerdshala.
- “At the moment, so much journalism is blue or red,” Reid says. “We want to highlight the enormous influence lobbyists and corporations have on public policy and our government officials.”
Catch up quickly: The Intercept was founded in 2014 by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, who also provided the outlet with its initial funding.
- It is owned by First Look Media, a company created by Omidyar in 2013, with both non-profit and for-profit entities.
- The for-profit arm of the company was created as a mechanism to fund The Intercept. This includes a content studio called Topics Studio and a for-profit streaming service called Topics.
- The non-profit part of the company, called the First Look Institute, includes The Intercept as well as Field of Vision, a documentary film unit, and the Press Freedom Defense Fund, a free press support group.
interception often bends On legal backing from the Press Freedom Defense Fund when filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
- Earlier this year, The Intercept sued To obtain documents from the National Institutes of Health that suggested That a US-funded experiment in China posed a biosecurity risk “but did not cause the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We believe investigative journalism needs subsidies,” Reid says. “We are supported by a for-profit branch so that our investigative work doesn’t have to be bogged down by soft journalism.”
- In May, The Intercept’s parent First Look Media appointed Beth Nathanson, formerly the Anti-Defamation League’s first chief philanthropist.
By numbers: The Intercept had about 70,000 paid members in the US and Brazil last year, its spokesperson tells Nerdshala — its biggest membership growth of the year and a sizable number for a nonprofit news company.
- It’s expecting a slight drop this year to about 65,000 members, but says it’s still expecting a contribution of about 10,000 first-time donors this year, a continued growth during the Biden administration. speaking for.
- “We’re seeing this stabilize, partly because it’s a natural part of the subscription lifecycle,” Reid said, and because “it’s a reflection of what’s going on across the industry right now.” She noted that the outlet is seeing “less intense engagement in the post-Trump era,” but membership is still strong.
be smart: Reed says The Intercept’s readership hasn’t been dramatically affected by Greenwald’s departure. When trafficking peaked around the election, “we still have good numbers,” she said.
- Like most media companies, the Biden era has had little impact on The Intercept’s traffic, per comScore. But the outlet doesn’t sell ads, so web traffic hasn’t been a major proxy metric for success.
- Subscriptions account for less than a quarter of The Intercept’s total funding. Philanthropic donations account for most of the rest. Licensing stories for shows and podcasts is also a growing revenue stream.
Between the lines: Outlet’s big scrutiny may not always fit into the quick-hit news cycle, but licensing deals are proving to be good fodder.
- In June, The Intercept received a Pulitzer nomination For its seven-part audio series titled “Somebody”, which was produced in conjunction with Subject Studio and Invisible Institute.
- Reed says the outlet is now in the process of developing podcasts and film and television projects in collaboration with Topic Studios. One story he wants to delve into is its Piece About the CIA’s Death Squad in Afghanistan from December, which won the Overseas Press Club Award.
What will happen next: The second season of the company’s “Murderville” podcast premieres this November. It will be distributed by podcasting company Acast, and will include sponsorships.