Monetization through merchandising is an approach that Južne vesti (JV), a well established and recognized regional outlet from Niš, embraced as part of their business strategy. Namely, they opened Vajdica.be, a web shop for selling T-shirts with illustrations that are characteristic and recognizable for the city of Niš.
“This is just beginning. We have opened our web shop, but the intensive promotion will be conducted during the autumn,” said Stefan Burgić from Južne vesti, adding that “designated brand awareness campaign is under way via Facebook and Instagram.”
Like any other local outlet in the Western Balkans, Južne vesti are struggling to be financially independent. According to its owner, Vitomir Ognjanović JV is considered as a professional and independent outlet, but unfortunately, due to several factors, citizens are not ready to pay for the news.
“As a result of this, we initiated the project. Vajdica will completely rely on the local community with the aim to educate and show the citizens that it is in their best interest to support the local media,” Ognjanović said.
He pointed out that the long-term goal is to show the citizens that the interaction between outlets and community should be two-way. Citizens need reliable information and outlets need citizens to support them in hard times.
The web shop, supported through the ‘Media for All’ project, will be used also for promoting local business, local artists and culture. In supporting the local community all products that will be sold on the web shop will be sourced locally as much as possible.
Established in 2009, Južne vesti is the first news internet portal that covers specifically the region of southeast Serbia, reporting from 28 cities and municipalities. Their focus on local news and high level of trust among citizens is something that distinguishes them from other local outlets in the region.