OLD Media Moves

Footnoted founder: Quality matters

February 22, 2010

Laura McGann of the Nieman Journalism Lab interviewed Michelle Leder, the business journalist who founded Footnoted.org and sold it earlier this month to Morningstar.

McGann writes, “In October 2008, Leder took a gamble on a new business model. ‘It became clear to me that advertising was never going to sustain the site,’ she explained. While keeping a portion of her content free, she launched a secondary product called FootnotedPro, which contains exclusive information for investors. The 40 issues per year’s price: $100 per month, $1,000 a year or a la carte $250.

“Her goal was to sign up 100 subscribers. She said that she fell just short of that, but did pretty well. (She would not disclose her exact number of subscriptions, citing an agreement with Morningstar.) ‘You can’t be afraid to take that leap,’ Leder said, ‘You need to be thinking about the business side. You’re the publisher. You have to do it.’

“Still, she says she’s looking forward to letting Morningstar handle selling the subscriptions from now on. ‘I’m really good at reading SEC filings and finding nuggets. I’m not really good at selling subscriptions,’ Leder laughed.

“She hopes over the next year she’ll hire one or two more business journalists (she’s got 20 years of business journalism experience under her belt) and perhaps an analyst. ‘There’s so much content out there,’ Leder said. ‘People recognize quality.’ High quality includes authenticity, which she said matters to her readers.”

Read more here.

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