VTDigger: Project Summary

VTDigger provides in-depth news, analysis and investigative reports that explain how decisions made by state officials impact Vermonters. Its website has an audience of 135,000 to 150,000 unique readers a month who represent a cross-section of people with different political views and socioeconomic situations.

This funding would allow VTDigger to test whether an established news organization can use branded podcasts to create new revenue streams through underwriting, event sponsorship and resale of podcasts to radio stations — as well as expanding its editorial offerings.

The VTDigger podcast features a well-known reporter and political talk show host and creates a series of weekly podcasts during the five-month Vermont legislative session and the 2016 elections. Today, half of VTDigger’s underwriting is built around web banner advertising.  VTDigger will launch the podcast as a premium product for both annual underwriting support and individual program support. It also could be sold to media partners for rebroadcast on radio and online, and the podcast also can be tied in with VTDigger events.

Of numerous podcast proposals, this one stood out in its revenue focus and strategy. While it promises to enhance editorial presentation around a key beat for VTDigger and may extend its audience, it focuses on using those benefits to transfer underwriting support from old to newer digital platforms, thus securing key current funding and creating a new basis for revenue growth.

VTDigger’s thinking about how to make the most of a key editorial talent on staff, in both editorial and business terms, also is adaptable by other nonprofit newsrooms built around a well-known reporter or specialized coverage.