The Nut Graph in a jam

By: Pamela Vinsence,

11 month old online news portal, The Nut Graph is looking at public donations, funding and exploring different revenue models in a bid to stay afloat following the pull-out of investors.

In May, investors told Jacqueline Ann Surin, co-founder and editor of The Nut Graph that they would not continue to fund operations after its two year commitment ends in March 2010.

Surin said there were "several reasons" for this, which included pressures from the economic recession, but declined to go further into specifics.

"To be fair, the online media business, in both Malaysia and overseas, is still struggling to find a sustainable and profitable business model. Within the current economic climate, it would be unfair to expect any one group of investors to keep on putting in money into such an enterprise with no guaranteed returns on investment," she said.

Currently there are a range of online news portals in Malaysia including the newly launched Malaysian Mirror as well as the established players such as The Star Online, NST Online, Malaysia Today, Agenda Daily and Malaysiakini.

Surin said the current advertising revenue being generated from The Nut Graph was not enough to keep the business sustainable. The company is currently exploring a subscription-based model but it will not be implemented in the immediate future.

"Overriding all these efforts is the need for us to come up with a sustainable business model. We haven't settled on anything yet but are exploring different ideas," she said.

Besides seeking public donations, it has also been applying for grants from foundations as well. 

In a letter to readers of The Nut Graph, Surin said investors could no longer fund the independent news site due to certain circumstances and the business could close as a result.