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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

How to feed The Ferret: Understanding subscribers in the search for a sustainable model of investigative journalism

Price, John (2017) How to feed The Ferret: Understanding subscribers in the search for a sustainable model of investigative journalism. Journalism, 2017 (Oct 10). pp. 1-18. ISSN 1464-8849

Item Type: Article


The Ferret was founded in Scotland in 2015 as a co-operative. Drawing funding from a variety of sources – including grants, crowdfunding, training and events – the organisation relies heavily on subscriptions for its core business model. The Ferret is one of a number of recent digital start-ups seeking to explore new ways of funding and sustaining investigative journalism against a backdrop of declining levels of such journalism from the mainstream media. Despite this, to date there has been very little detailed, empirical work into subscription or membership models of funding journalism. This article begins to address this by presenting the results of an online survey of The Ferret’s subscribers. The findings are discussed in the context of recent work from international scholars about paying for online news and new business models for public interest journalism. The results suggest that subscribers tend to be middle aged or older, to the left of the political spectrum and motivated mainly by a desire to support the production of investigative journalism – rather than gain exclusive access to its content. The article concludes by arguing that recruiting such people offers a potentially sustainable membership model for investigative journalism platforms, whereby journalism for the benefit of society is funded by the few.

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More Information

Depositing User: John Price


Item ID: 8107
Identification Number:
ISSN: 1464-8849
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for John Price: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2017 09:05
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 11:02


Author: John Price ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications


Media > Journalism and Public Relations

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