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August 28, 2018updated 29 Aug 2018 9:33am

Buzzfeed News now asking readers for donations from $5 to $100 to help it ‘report more news’

By Charlotte Tobitt

Buzzfeed News has begun asking its readers to “help shape the future” of its content through donations, inspired by the Guardian’s model.

The website has launched a dedicated page asking for payments to help it “report more news” as “part of an effort to explore a deeper relationship” with its “most active supporters” and ensure it can stay outside a paywall.

Buzzfeed’s new “support” page asks for donations of $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100, telling readers to “pay whatever you like”. Prompts will appear at the bottom of news stories.

The page states: “Our reporters are working around the globe to cover what you care about, break big stories and expose injustices that can change lives.

“Your support will help us report more news and break down for you what’s happening in the world.”

Press Gazette understands donations will be shared globally among Buzzfeed News teams – including in the UK.

Donors are offered the chance to “be first to hear updates from our newsroom” and to “help shape the future” of Buzzfeed News.

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The move follows outlets like the Guardian, which has an option for readers to contribute on a one-off, monthly or annual basis alongside its print and digital subscription models – which offer little in the way of extras.

Guardian Media Group, publisher of the Guardian and Observer titles, is owned by the Scott Trust, which is its sole shareholder and puts profits back into the business.

In July, GMG said it had received 375,000 one-off donations over the previous 12 months on top of 570,000 regular paying supporters and members.

Buzzfeed hopes the donations will prove to be an important part of its revenue diversification, which has also seen it launch shows on Twitter, Facebook and Netflix in the past year and experiment with programmatic ads on news pages.

A Buzzfeed News spokesperson declined to comment to Press Gazette.

Its US-based director of communications, Matt Mittenthal, told the Wall Street Journal: “Following some of our peers in the industry, we see this as one more way to support our reporting and keep Buzzfeed News free for everyone.”

Tom Namako, head of Buzzfeed News breaking news in the US, tweeted last night: “Do you like the fast, factual, hard-hitting, and beautifully written journalism you get from Buzzfeed News? Of course you do.

“At the bottom of our articles, we’ll soon allow readers to donate between $5 and $100 to the news operation. Fight for real news.”

The launch comes a month after Buzzfeed unveiled a new standalone homepage for its international news content, although Buzzfeed News content still also appears on the main site.

The Buzzfeed News homepage is not divided into traditional news categories but instead features a trending topics bar across the top and a “latest news” section at the top.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed missed its revenue target by around 15 to 20 per cent last year.

Buzzfeed UK made a £3.3m pre-tax loss in 2016 and a £38,395 pre-tax profit the year before.

Buzzfeed announced last week it was closing its French operation by the end of August, after the move was initially suspended by a judge for management to provide more information about its decision.

A spokesperson said: “We want to take this opportunity to thank the team for their strong reporting and their many contributions to the company over the years.

“We know that everyone on the team will continue to have bright, impactful careers and we wish them all the very best.”

In January, the website cut a third of its UK newsroom staff to focus on content for global audiences and its “core” UK news beats – investigations, politics, media and social justice, chief executive Jonah Peretti said.

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