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During times of crisis, money comes first – without funding, without resources and paid staff, journalism cannot complete its mission to the society. How to earn and how to spend to earn more: these two questions haunt publishers, producers and editors in any country today. But in Russia and other places where journalism faces political pressure, getting sufficient investment to develop the media is far more challenging. On one hand, fewer people in the audience are willing to spend their cash for media subscriptions or copy purchase. On the other, the authoritarian state lavishly funds its own media organisations, and manipulates advertising spenders against the free media, and consistently goes after independent news producers. With the challenge posed social networks, which for many have become a surrogate for news media, the following problem has become tantamount: how is it possible to sustain and increase income when a large part of the advertisement money is consumed by online moguls like Google and Facebook?

In case of illiberal media systems (i.e. present day Russia), that exists amidst the authoritarian control-freak regime, the sources of funding heavily depend on the ruling political elite who will be doing their best to curtail financial sources of the media outlets that are beyond its control. A significant decrease in the number of dissent voices via the introduction of severe legislation is the conventional path authoritarian regimes take to cut free press funding. In addition to this, securing the trust and support of users who could financially support non-state aligned media requires hard work in order to nourish loyal audiences and be aware of the possible reputation risks.

The two-day workshop at the University of Leeds will open the floor to media managers, academics and journalists who will discuss and test existing and potential business models. The aim of the workshop is to assess the potential perspectives of business innovation in the media sphere and develop recommendations for existing and future media practitioners, discussing some of the following questions: What are the means of financial survival for the media? How can news media be profitable? How the digital age changed the paradigm of managing media business models? Is a paywall an efficient source of income for digital media and what are the alternatives? What are the most promising business innovations today that will shape media market in the next decades?

The format of the event will comprise (1) on-stage interviews with prominent practitioners who implement a successful business models in difficult environment; (2) academic/analytical reports on ‘state of the industry’ in regard to various industry verticals and various regions with a subsequent discussion; (3) a workshop that will assist participants in implementation of the ideas and practices they have learned.

Our participants list and attendees will include prominent international and Russian journalists, publishers, researchers and analysts, as well as early and mid-career professionals from Russia (with an emphasis on regional media).

Speakers/Academics/Analysts (confirmed* and/or awaiting confirmation**):

  • Jeff Jarvis* (CUNY School of Journalism/Buzzmachine)
  • Joseph Turow* (UPenn)
  • Wolfgang Blau** (Conde Nast)
  • Elizaveta Osetinskaya* (The Bell)
  • Dmitry Navosha* (Sports.ru)
  • Jessica Lessin** (The Information)
  • Filipp Dzyadko* (Arzamas)
  • Maxim Kashulinskiy* (ex-Republic.ru, ex-Forbes RU)
  • Prof. Sarah Oates* (University of Maryland)
  • Rob Windjberg** (De Korrespondent NL/USA)
  • Kirill Artemenko* (Bumaga)

The list may be extended to include even more amazing practitioners and researchers!

The seminar will follow three core tracks of knowledge: Income & Sustainability, No-Advertising Business Models, Non-News Media.


This track will provide participants with a comprehensive update on existing and future income sources for media, providing a comparison between the past, the present and the future, on the one side, and different media markets on the other.  Media managers (Wolfgang Blau, Maxim Kashulinsky) will challenge academic/analytical approaches as they may contradict factual reality of doing media business.


This track will provide a deeper understanding of non-traditional media business models, including DeKorrespondent’ (DK) success in the Netherlands and the project’s recent successful launch in the US. Also, Jessica Lessin (The Information) and Elizaveta Osetinskaya (The Bell) will discuss e-mail based news media.


This track will focus on non-news media: educational, charity, sports, hobby, satire/ironic media – as well as ‘non-media’ in the terms of conventional business, like museums, forums, city spaces – all can serve a ‘Trojan horse’ for liberal values while not propelling news & politics agenda. Non-for-profits and charities may also serve media-like content generators and distributors, camouflaging political agendas with messages of humane cause. Can we see an efficient business model here? Would ‘enclosures’ for news & politics agendas risk their audience relations or will they benefit?

Dmitri Navosha, founder of Sports.ru, Filipp Dzyadko from Arzamas.Media and others will deliver perspectives on Russian environment, while we also expect to invite the US-based non-profit media like ProPublica, as well as researchers who study these boundaries of media business.