I think NPR is one of the best examples of membership-driven media on the internet and airwaves today.
I subscribe to This American Life’s podcast, a flagship NPR show, for free. All of the shows broadcast on NPR are available for free podcasting and I think this has been integral to their success. People don’t always have time to sit around and wait for their favourite radio show to come on the air. That’s why podcasting has become so popular. It’s portable and convenient.
NPR is known for their creative, high-quality content. They take the day’s news and take it from repetitive facts and headlines, to indepth analysis and commentary with shows like All Things Considered. NPR wouldn’t be this successful if it didn’t present news and features in exciting, creative ways. They’ve also mastered social networking by using tools like Twitter and Facebook to draw people to their site. Their site has archived shows for listening, as well as print stories. I know I’m gushing here, but I like NPR.
I don’t know if this counts, and I really hope I’m not way off-base, but I think Wikipedia is steadily becoming an excellent example of membership driven media. There are only members in the sense that there is a citizen editing staff, and a world full of contributors. People don’t pay for advanced services, but I can see that happening in the future if Wikipedia comes out with newscasts and daily highlights, etc… Wikipedia survives on donations from users, and people do donate because they see what value there is in the service.
I know to some people Wikipedia may just seem like some research tool or place to get movie summaries, but I actually use it for news. Lately, on Google News, I’ve been noticing links to Wikipedia articles alongside links to Globe and Mail articles. I think this is indicative of it’s growing success as a news provider. Yes, I followed headlines on CBC, the Globe and Mail and Twitter throughout the Egyptian uprising. But, just yesterday, I went to Wikipedia to read a detailed timeline to make sure there was nothing I missed. Here, all of the information from those stories was condensed into one convenient place, with sources to back it up.
I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes right now, I know the site has it’s flaws. But, it hasn’t failed me yet.