10. To what extent do sponsorships incentivize the kind of content our society needs? Advertisers often don’t benefit from sponsorships of content most helpful to society (investigative, accountability, muck-raking journalism), so media companies have less of an incentive to create that kind of content because it won’t be funded. Society often doesn’t benefit from the kind of content advertisers most want to sponsor, so media companies are often reluctant to create such content. Sometimes, the interests align. How big is that overlap, and is there a way to make it bigger? Are there other ways to sustainably fund necessary journalism advertisers wouldn’t want to sponsor?
Below is a Venn diagram of the relationship. I will layer on a third circle related to subscriptions in a future Question of the Week.
How would our coverage be different if the POLITICO newsroom had 100% complete ability to cover whatever they want, whether or not advertisers are willing to sponsor it? What should we do with the funding and bandwidth that goes toward series that don’t end up being sponsored? To what extent should funding from sponsorships go toward the content being sponsored vs. subsidizing other content that can’t be monetized other ways? How could POLITICO find a sustainable way to fund investigative journalism?
Examples of Portions from this Venn Diagram
Example of (2): Any of our sponsored series, like Women Rule and What Works
Example of (3): Any of our non-sponsored series we pursued anyway, like POLITICO 50, or All Policy Is Local Health or Education
Example of (1): One of the 25 original POLITICO Pitch ideas submitted was “Sunny Side Up — a weekly (or daily) feature that highlights positive stories in politics — stories that demonstrate cooperation and effective governing, and can help restore faith in the political process.” Coverage of issues going well, although easier to sponsor, generally doesn’t add as much value to society as coverage of what’s going wrong.