The female-led vision
Magločistač is a local niche outlet from Subotica, Serbia, recognizable in the local community for providing information in public interest, thus contributing to nurturing civic activism. While the main source of income has come from projects financed by foreign donor organisations, the team developed a new business idea to include alternative sources. This includes collaboration with other CSOs, but also individual donations and local businesses. Magločistač was established by two professional journalists, but throughout the project they welcomed two more women who brought an expanded set of skills and knowledge to their team.
With the substantial support of the Media for All project, this female-led media developed its capacities and became more sustainable in operation, more diverse when it comes to content and formats, and more embedded and trusted within their local community.
Pre- project brave mission
Magločistač started as an online portal, with a mission to produce and disseminate locally relevant information and news in public interest. Only two persons were engaged, an editor-in-chief and one journalist. The operational costs were kept at lowest due to a few volunteers who produced the content, edited the portal and operated the social networks. Though it was highly appreciated in the local community from the very beginning, Magločistač went through various challenges stemming from the lack of financial resources coupled with an unfriendly political environment, resulting in lessening enthusiasm of associates involved in content production.
At the outset of mentoring, Magločistač faced limitations in both human and financial resources. The editor-in-chief and one journalist had a vision and were quite enthusiastic to cope with the challenges. Their level of knowledge in journalism but also online media outlet management was excellent. Also, they possessed fundraising experience and a keen understanding of the media market’s dynamics as well as the role of small local media. There were certain needs for capacity building in regard to media business, but also content creation, particularly podcasts, as well as community development and communication. However, most of the needs were related to obtaining finance to engage more journalists and staff, new technical equipment as well as mentoring support in decision-making and acquiring skills in business planning, collecting donations and sponsorships.
The intervention aimed to enhance the outlet’s sustainability by implementing streamlined workflows and exploring new revenue streams. Over two years with the Media for All project’s support, Magločistač significantly increased its content production, audience and monetised its newly introduced services and partnerships. They expanded their team, introduced new formats, such as Instagram stories, podcasts, and video content. Through collaborations with activist non-governmental organisations, Magločistač cemented ties with the community, actively participating in ecological, cultural, and human rights events. The outlet evolved into a reliable source for information and self-expression, addressing previously unreported stories.
Post-intervention, Magločistač diversified income through partnerships, crowdfunding, and individual donations. This transformation validated a development concept encompassing new revenue streams, work methods, audience engagement, and media rebranding.
Manoeuvring the challenges
The biggest challenge was to attract local businesses for sponsorship, which is almost a universal problem for media outlets disseminating information in the public interest. The local businessmen typically perceive it as being risky in political sense, as any eventual support to civic media (independent media) in Serbia might be abused by local government officials against such businesses. While struggling to collect sponsorship, Magločistač organised a crowdfunding campaign, raising money from members of the local community. In the extension period, Magločistač has managed to integrate Patreon and Buymeacoffee platforms to their website.
Magločistač has been able to enlarge its team, gain new approaches, knowledge and skills in media production, dissemination, and community engagement. Their partners, local and niche NGOs, now have a reliable and trusty media partner to report on their grass root and other citizen-related activities. Finally, citizens of Subotica and Bačka Topola, have been able to build stronger ties with this media, create a sense of ownership over the content, and have reliable and different angles of reporting on local and human related issues.
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“We saw this opportunity as our new schooling, acquiring new skills and knowledge. We became recognisable for our podcasts, which mean a lot to us and our community.” – Natalija Jakovljevic, Magločistač Project Manager