For the last 15 months, Membership Puzzle Project has studied how membership models in news work—and might work better. We’re keeping track of member-funded news sites as they emerge around the world. We study their problems and their potential. We ask members why they are members, what they get from supporting newsrooms. Occasionally we offer advice.
And now, we’re expanding… and hiring
We’re eager to grow our team with an excellent operations-oriented person who can help us grow the actionability of our work well beyond the US.
If you’re detail-obsessed and highly collaborative--and can also speak publicly about our research questions and findings--the research operations manager role could be a good fit for you. This will be a full-time, grant-funded role for a person who will work from our office at NYU journalism school from October 2018 to April 2020. Regular domestic and international travel to newsrooms and journalism conferences is required.
Our operations manager will study and advise news organizations that are pursuing interactive forms of audience engagement, with The Correspondent as our primary newsroom partner. If you’re a star with budget management who knows how to research organizations and make recommendations to teammates, please read on.
Also, to give some insight into what we’re up to this year, we have four key research priorities, in addition to our work with the Join the Beat community. With our team we want to:
Boost understanding of the differences between subscription and membership models;
Show substantive non-monetary ways that people can participate in news;
Find approaches to increased financial inclusion and equitable representation; and
Highlight examples of “unsuccessful membership tries” that may have been ahead of their time--but have valuable ideas to offer.
More about the open position, please
We’re a research project funded by the the Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund, and you can read more about us here. The operations manager will be the project’s third on-site staff member working with a distributed research team. They will report to the research director and will have a wide range of responsibilities including:
Research operations and project management — On behalf of the project’s work in the public interest. This will include detailed research into how news sites operate in different countries and contexts.
Collaborating — With teams from news sites around the world, including our partner newsroom De Correspondent and its new English-language site The Correspondent
Presenting — Sharing our research inquiries and insights publicly
Grants financial management — Communicating with partners and NYU administrators and overseeing grant-related bills and expenses
Scheduling — Advising on how our research team should best spend its time, including schedule management and travel planning
How to know if this is a fit for you
The person who will undertake this role:
Understands the difference between subscription and membership as we describe them and is highly interested in business models for news (not just intellectually, but because the industry is in dire need of new approaches). You see the unique advantages of news sites that look to their members, not just advertisers, to help them thrive.
Has a deep understanding of the fundamental shortcomings of the digital news industry and bold ideas on how to fix them.
Supports efforts to improve cultural and ethnic diversity in journalism.
Understands what is meant by the phrase, doing journalism with, rather than about, people.
Believes strongly that audience members (including MPP’s) have invaluable expertise and values their contributions as an indispensable part of journalism.
Strongly believes that interaction between journalists and readers is crucial in restoring lost trust in journalism, and understands why the relationship with an audience should be personal rather than institutional.
Advocates for constructive, solution-oriented journalism, helping readers to be better citizens and providing them with ways of acting on their ideals.
Subscribes to a style of management that is bottom up, personal, accessible, transparent, and democratic. Cares deeply about how we treat our research team, colleagues at NYU, project partners, and hosts at gatherings around the world.
Is an experienced public speaker and an interesting person to interview.
Knows how to write in clear and accessible language.
Is highly adept at working with budgets and detailed administrative processes.
Loves experimenting; thinks big and acts quickly.
Has meaningful professional experience in project management, accounting and budgeting, and in collaborating with people outside the United States.
Meets the educational requirement of a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Has permission to work in the US. (Note that we frequently hire contract researchers working abroad and are open to proposals for research around the priorities mentioned above.)
What we offer
A full-time, grant-funded role — With competitive salary, healthcare benefits, and travel opportunities lasting through spring 2020
An NYC office — at NYU’s 20 Cooper Square
A role at the forefront of innovation in journalism — with thoughtful, ambitious co-workers. This includes journalism professor and press critic Jay Rosen and researcher and writer Emily Goligoski together with a team of distributed researchers from around the world.
An October 1 start date
Suggested candidate reading
Our guide to audience revenue and engagement written with the Tow Center at Columbia.
What we’ve learned from studying what supporters of independent news need.
Our membership models in news database to understand our research sample and outstanding sites in the space.
Jay’s Nieman Lab piece on how De Correspondent earns its’ readers trust.
Interested? Great! You can apply with a cover letter (four paragraphs or less about why you’re a good fit for the project in this capacity, noting any languages you speak in addition to English), resume, and three or fewer links to recent relevant work.
Update: We are no longer accepting applications for this position. Thanks for your interest!
Jessica Best, Emily Goligoski, David van Zeggeren, Jay Rosen, Leon Postma, and Lukas Kouwets contributed to this post.