Readers of 14ymedio, a Cuban news outlet, can now play an active role protecting the future of the outlet’s fact-based, objective journalism through a new membership model.
Reader memberships will give the news outlet greater financial independence, allowing it to answer primarily to its readers, says Alejandro González, development and innovation director. This aligns with the organization’s mission to be editorially independent from political or economic interests.
State-owned media in Cuba sometimes lacks objectivity and facts, so that’s why independent outlets such as 14ymedio exist, says González.
About the membership model
According to a 14ymedio news release, members pay $10.99 a month for the Family plan or $5.99 for the Friend plan. They can also choose to pay an amount that fits their budget.
The team at 14ymedio hopes to attract at least 2,000 members in the next year. Since Tuesday’s launch, they’ve attracted nearly 50.
Readers in Cuba consume 14ymedio’s news through proxies, email and social media since the site is blocked within the island, according to the release.
Although the online content remains free to readers, the membership model, which is only available to those outside of Cuba, provides additional perks such as online video calls with staff, according to the release.
“We want our community of members to play a more direct role in our editorial process so that they feel valued and heard by our team,” says Reinaldo Escobar, editor-in-chief at 14ymedio.
Members will also have access to the outlet’s financial data reports.
Behind the scenes
González and his team began developing plans for the membership during a 2016-2017 fellowship at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. They worked with students from the Entrepreneurship and Media of the Future class at the Missouri School of Journalism to visualize what a membership model would look like and how to scale it once it was launched.
14ymedio also worked with students in a capstone class to learn more about how readers felt about a membership model and how much they would be willing to pay.
González says his team also learned the importance of listening and being open to learn everything they could about creating and launching a membership model.
“For us, being in an environment that allowed us to learn from our colleagues, from our peers, as well as the students was essential for us,” says González. “We also had the opportunity to first learn from the industry and talk to other outlets to understand how they looked at membership models.”