Media start-up tops national Hot List

05 July 2018

PressPatron founder Alex Clark is passionate about ensuring the future of high quality journalism.
PHOTO /  Victoria University of Wellington

A passion for quality in-depth journalism led former Whanganui resident Alex Clark to develop one of New Zealand's hottest media tech startups.

Clark, who is now based in Wellington, grew up in Castlecliff and is a former editor of youth magazine Tearaway.

His company PressPatron, launched in February 2017, has been identified as one of nine of the media industry's best tech startups for The Hot List 2018 run by NZ Marketing magazine.

PressPatron is a crowdfunding platform for journalism. It provides a payment button for publishers' websites, enabling readers to make a donation by becoming a "supporter". Readers can make one-off or monthly contributions.

"If publishers move to a donation and voluntary membership model, people are more willing to pay for use," Clark said.

"They can pay what they want, and when they want, if high quality investigative journalism and in-depth reporting are things they value."

Clark said he was surprised how much people were prepared to donate, with supporters paying an average of $11.50 a month or $49 for a one-off donation.

Clark said subscriptions and restrictions such as paywalls, mostly overseas, had been less successful than supporter contributions while income from advertising alone did not sustain quality journalism.

About 30 websites are currently using PressPatron and Clark has spent the past three months in the United States meeting with potential clients, from freelance journalists and one-person organisations to big international media sites. He says 25 more sites are now actively considering using PressPatron.

Clark, a former Whanganui High School pupil, studied digital media, entrepreneurship and internet law at university and has worked as a media researcher, exploring how different types of digital content are created, funded and shared.

He said his two-year stint with Tearaway sparked his interest in the media industry, diverting him from his plan to go to medical school.

"I think I'm a lot more passionate about this."

By Sue Dudman
Wanganui Chronicle 5/7/18