Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Is Journalism the Terri Schiavo of American Business?

Being away on vacation was really good for several things, including forgetting about how utterly our economy is in the toilet. For a little more than a week, I could just put out of my mind the seemingly unending string of bad news about the media that has been coming along, including one report that I saw suggesting that the New York Times is increasingly likely to declare bankruptcy next year, which is something, if it happens, that will absolutely send shockwaves around the world. We all know "Pinch" Sulzberger is borrowing against the company's ownershp stake in its new tower to service the company's debt, so already they're on the precipice. Scarily enough, Rupert salivates. Imagine him owning the Wall Street Journal and the Times! That's the thing he wants, kids.

Well, anyway, here are some links to stories that are bringing me, however sadly, back to this thing we call earth. Sorry to be a big Debbie Downer on the eve of the birth of Christ, but who'll disagree that we need something like the Second Coming at this point to really save American journalism?

Washington Post, Baltimore Sun to Begin Sharing Some News Content
Betcha $10 this will include arts coverage in 2009.

Wenner of Discontent
"The latest round of cuts, which came Friday, marked the second time this month that Wenner Media has shed jobs. On Dec. 10, Wenner laid off four people in the editorial department, which now stands at 40 people."

Non-Profit Model for Newspapers May Be the Answer
There are two salient bits here. The first is what, for this story, functions as the dek:

"Before newspaper owners whittle their newsrooms and their product down to nothing, they owe it to themselves, their employees, their still-loyal readers and their communities -- not to mention their shareholders -- to try the not-for-profit route."

But the second is more intriguing, if worrisome, buried within the body of the story:
"Not-for-profit, tax-exempt. No longer dependent on commercial advertisers. A brave new world!

These not-for-profits would be supported by corporate sponsorships and by contributions from foundations and public-spirited citizens who care about the community and who understand how it would be diminished by the loss of its newspapers."
Here's my question: Can journalism maintain objectivity better as a charity than as a profit-oriented business? Discuss.

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