The numbers are in on news organizations earning money by producing events – and the revenue is significant.
Founded only five years ago, the nonprofit Texas Tribune generated $1.13 million from events in 2013, more than one-fifth of its total revenue. That’s up from about $887,000 the year before. About half of the events revenue comes from a single event.
Smaller nonprofits St. Louis Beacon and MinnPost in 2012 generated more than 10 percent of their revenue from events. Another, NJ Spotlight, came in at 12 percent.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press, a private company in Tennessee’s fourth-largest city, earned well into the seven digits off of just 12 events, making “direct events revenue” 11 percent of its retail revenue.
Sometimes, too, revenue is not the only goal. Brand positioning is. Some events are largely about generating news and are in effect journalism events — in-person programs including debates, panels, speeches and other newsmaking opportunities. Still other events in the news space are convened fundamentally as community events — expos, shows, awards dinners, contests and other events that gather communities for non-journalism functions. Most serve multiple purposes.