Reader revenue research and tools

The American Press Institute helps publishers with strategies for subscriptions and other reader revenue for news.

Below are some of the public resources we’ve released that any news publisher can take advantage of. For more information or to request hands-on help from API, contact our Director of Reader Revenue Gwen Vargo at

  • What it takes to shift a news organization to reader revenue.” This essay, authored by Damon Kiesow at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, describes fundamental changes needed to move from an advertising-centric mindset to and pursue an audience-centric business. It is the first entry in API’s Reader Revenue Toolkit, an ongoing collection of practical guides and resources to help publishers pursue reader revenue strategies.
  • Paths to Subscription: Why recent subscribers chose to pay for news.” API worked with 90 local newspapers and our partners in the Media Insight Project to survey more than 4,100 recent subscribers. The approach allowed us to asked nuanced questions about why new subscribers decided to pay and how they came to that decision. From the data, we identified nine common journeys to subscription and outlined strategies for acquisition and retention for consumers on each “path.”
  • The 3 types of news subscribers: Why they pay and how to convert them.” Using a human-centered design approach to empathize with users and uncover their values and motivations, the Media Insight Project and researcher Tran Ha identified three archetypes of news subscribers. People subscribe to news for different reasons, and the archetypes are a tool to help publishes focus their strategies for both marketing and product purposes.
  • Paying for news: Why people subscribe and what it says about the future of journalism.” This 2017 Media Insight Project study performed a nationally representative survey sample to determine who pays for news and why. It gives broad perspective on the public’s behaviors when it comes to paying for news and what it means for publishers’ strategies today.
  • How much U.S. newspapers charge for digital subscriptions.API Research Fellow Tracy Cook examined prices of digital content subscriptions at 100 newspapers across the United States to understand how much they charge for subscription access to their digital content, and what variables may influence the price. The aggregate data gives a benchmark that may be of use to publishers evaluating their own pricing structures.
  • Subscription and membership strategies from We have curated guides and resources from many sources into a single collection on our Better News website. Find the resources you need to get started in reader revenue, to refine a strategy, or to tweak the day-to-day tactics that lead to success.

This and other research will inform future tools and reports from API to help news publishers put in practice reader revenue models to help sustain their journalism. For more updates, subscribe to API’s daily email newsletter, Need to Know.