GlobalPost: Generating Revenue

Back in January, on the occasion of its launch, we wrote about GlobalPost, the Boston-based international news startup—and about the high expectations (and, more to the point, high hopes) associated with it. As we noted then:

GlobalPost is an effort whose nascent days have been, and will no doubt continue to be, under intense scrutiny. It’s an optimistic strain of scrutiny, though: even among those who have been critical of individual components of GlobalPost’s business model or editorial aims or audience goals, the overall sensibility that has permeated its coverage so far has been: Go get ‘em, guys. We’re pulling for you. Because if GlobalPost is successful in the way that it’s currently defining success—essentially, if it can manage to turn a profit by producing quality journalism—then its accomplishment will benefit journalism generally. GlobalPost’s experiment in many ways brings a new dimension to the we’re-in-this-together mentality of the Web: if it succeeds, then, in some measure, we all do.

Indeed, as GlobalPost co-founder Charlie Sennott put it, describing the giddy lead-up to the outlet’s launch, “The air was pregnant with expectation and possibility and most of all vigilance.”

High expectations, however—particularly in a media market so hostile to any start-up that is either brave or foolish enough to aspire to profitability—are often fit to be dashed.

But not in this case. GlobalPost is, indeed, generating revenue, and apparently on course to become profitable by as early as 2012. Its three-tiered financial structure—reliant on advertising, syndication (in print and online), and reader subscriptions—seems to be proving effective.

Per Nieman Lab, analyzing data provided by the Media Giraffe Project’s Bill Densmore:

Phil Balboni, chief executive of GlobalPost, said the company is on pace to generate $1 million in revenue this year and expects $3 million in revenue next year, which would reduce their operating loss by 50 percent. (He didn’t say so explicitly, but you might deduce from those numbers that GlobalPost’s annual expenses are $5 million.) The goal is to achieve profitability by 2012.

GlobalPost, Sennott said, speaking at a recent panel at Columbia’s J-School, is a refuge for foreign correspondents who, despite the disintegration of the financial structures that used to support their brand of journalism, want to keep working in the field. “The tanker has crashed,” Sennott said. “We’re a lifeboat.”

Congrats on staying afloat.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.