MinnPost -- a pioneering digital newspaper covering Minnesota and regional Midwestern news -- broke even last year, running a small surplus on total expenditures approaching $1.3 million. While this is a modest sum next to big metro dailies, the results defy skeptics who doubted that an online regional daily could be financially viable after its original seed money ran out.
The publication's success holds out hope for the new generation of digital publications now hitting the market.
Founded by CEO and editor Joel Kramer -- a newspaper veteran who previously served as editor and publisher of the Star Tribune until it was bought by McClatchy in 2007 -- MinnPost has seen results improve steadily over the last few years despite the recession.
It ran deficits of $605,000 in 2008 and $126,915 in 2009, followed by a surplus of $17,594 this year.
Kramer attributed these encouraging annual results in 2010 to a combination of revenue growth in advertising and sponsorship, buttressed by a smaller increase in contributions from individual and corporate donors.
Advertising and sponsorship revenue increased 42% from $217,734 in 2009 to $309,508 in 2010. Donor contributions grew 5% to $482,190. Prominent corporate donors include Medtronic and General Mills.
In addition, MinnPost has also received support from a number of regional and national foundations, including the Knight Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
Turning to Web site traffic, Kramer said the average number of visits per month increased 14% from about 395,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 450,000 in the fourth quarter of 2010, while page views increased 16% to 850,000.