Can’t get enough about how to fund newspapers in the 21st century? The latest to weigh in is Jack Shafer on Slate.com. His verdict: It’s a bad idea to divorce the newspaper from market pressures. “If I wanted that sort of news product, I’d watch The NewsHour,” he snarks. And one shouldn’t presume that foundation leadership will be without its problems, from ideologically-based promotion of “social justice” rather than journalism (bad, from his POV) and ideological drift (foundation set up by conservatives gets overrun by liberals who ignore the ideals of the originators–again, bad from his POV).
Yes, there are some good nonprofits in the news biz, Shafer continues (citing ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Independent Media and the Center for Investigative Reporting). Still, transforming newsrooms into foundation-funded market-free safe zones only postpones solving the problem, he says:
The idea of the Times or Post ceding the commercial sphere for the nonprofit aerie in which only democracy-nourishing journalism gets published gives me the willies. The Times, the Post, and the Wall Street Journal earned their reputations by competing in the marketplace, not by stroking philanthropic billionaires or foundations in what my colleague Adrian Monck calls the “holy search for ‘enlightened’ money.”
Just wondering if it’s okay to stroke philanthropic billionaires if your search is unholy?