News media publishers pitch the value of journalism during Ukraine invasion

By Greg Piechota


Oxford, United Kingdom


Amid the war in Ukraine, 72% or 36 of the top 50 news subscription brands referred to journalistic qualities in their subscription benefits, an INMA study found.

This is a significant increase by 12 percentage points or six brands vs. the summer of 2021.

Together with my associates, in the first week of March I reviewed landing pages for subscription offers available under Subscribe buttons. We looked at the Web sites of the top 50 brands by the number of digital subscribers.

  • We found that content quality, defined as journalism adhering to the highest craft norms and standards, was the single most popular benefit of subscribing mentioned in the offers. We observed it 54% or 27 sites of the top 50.

  • Impact of journalism on society, politics, economy was referred as a benefit by 22% or 11 brands.

  • Others mentioned editorial independence (16%), truth and honesty as a goal, (12%) and the watchdog role of journalism (12%).

These references might take literally the form of a product benefit. The Washington Post’s All Access Digital package listed: unlimited access on the Web and in the apps, 24/7 news updates, and “the most comprehensive political and international coverage.”

Some other brands declared their guiding principles explicitly. Le Figaro in France wrote: “Freedom is our heritage and it is in her name that we think about the future. Never completely acquired, it can always escape us. It is our mission to defend it and nurture it every day with strength and passion.”

References to the war in offers: In the first week of March, 14% or seven brands directly referred to the war in Europe in their calls to subscribe observed on home pages. Here are some examples: 

  • Sweden’s Expressen offered a two-months-long free trial with a message that read: “Follow the developments in Ukraine.”

  • Spain’s La Vanguardia offered a three-months-long paid trial with a 60% discount. Its messages read: “Truth is the first victim of the war” and “Disinformation is the war weapon.” 

  • Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza offered a six-months-long paid trial with a 84% discount to access: “Verified news from Ukraine, reports from the field, and expert predictions.”

  • The New Yorker pitched a one-year-long introductory offer at a 52% discount: “Get the in-depth analysis you need to understand the war in Ukraine.”

We saw most references to the war also on the Web sites of European brands, such as Corriere della Sera in Italy or Dagens Nyheter in Sweden, but we saw them outside of Europe, too, for example, on the site of Estadao de S. Paulo in Brazil.

In this review, we didn’t count references to the war on article pages or in advertising campaigns, but we saw a few. 

In its editorialised under-the-article call to contribute, The Guardian wrote: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has abruptly transformed the world. Two million people have already fled. A new Iron Curtain is grinding into place. An economic war deepens, as the military conflict escalates and civilian casualties rise.” 

And then it followed: “It’s our job at The Guardian to decipher a rapidly changing landscape, particularly when it involves a mounting refugee crisis and the risk of unthinkable escalation. Our correspondents are on the ground on both sides of the Ukraine-Russia border and throughout the globe, delivering round-the-clock reporting and analysis during this perilous moment.”

Greg’s Readers First newsletter is a public face of a revenue and media subscriptions initiative by INMA, outlined here. Subscribe here. 

About Greg Piechota

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