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The Media Businesses

Senator Proposes Nonprofit Status For Newspapers 426

Posted by kdawson
from the not-making-any-anyway dept.
The AP is reporting that a senator has introduced legislation that would allow struggling newspapers to operate as nonprofits, similar to the way public broadcasting works. "[Sen. Benjamin] Cardin [D-Md.] introduced a bill that would allow newspapers to choose tax-exempt status. They would no longer be able to make political endorsements, but could report on all issues including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt, and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible. Cardin said in a statement that the bill is aimed at preserving local newspapers, not large newspaper conglomerates. ... The head of the newspaper industry's trade group called the bill a positive step."
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Senator Proposes Nonprofit Status For Newspapers

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  • You know, that's not a terrible idea. Although it's probably not true, on the face of it non-profit new sources inherently seem less prone to pressure from vested interests.

    Mandated not-for-profit media sources make for better reporting: discuss.

    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:17PM (#27358767) Journal

      The problem is, the vast majority of newspapers are owned by giant conglomerates. Gannett and McClatchy just going to say, "Oh hey, lets dissolve!"? Don't think the CEO's with their 7 figure salaries are gonna get behind that one.

      Anyway, even the papers that are already non-profit are taking it in the ass. Look at St. Pete. The industry has to successfully make a revenue transition from 1 medium to another without going bankrupt in the process, and it doesn't help that the web sucks for revenue. Look at all these huge, popular web 2.0 services that still haven't found a way to make a profit. The Ad revenue pie is the same size, but way too many people want a piece, and you don't get that natural geographic advantage that newspapers have traditionally enjoyed.

    • The so-called "fourth estate" is still irrelevant.

      You've *still* got media access tightly controlled in most government.

      You've heard of National Public Radio right? They are non-profit get their content from the same sources, report it with about the same amount of complicity as any other news source.

      Note, I am not laying all blame on newspapers. The consumer is happily paying for half-truths, advertising disguised as news, and 'man bites dog' stories.

      This is another corporate welfare project.

  • 1st Amendment? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:11PM (#27358655)

    So in the US, we have the 1st Amendment which says this: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; ..."

    It seems to me that what this law would do is give a competitive advantage to those newspapers that avoid endorsing candidates.

    Isn't that abridging the freedom of the presses that want to make political statements endorsing candidates? It basically says, "Don't make political endorsements, or else we'll tax you."

    • by Improv (2467)

      I am not 100% sure on this, but don't churches and other nonprofits have to avoid explicit endorsements too to retain their nonprofit status?

      • by faloi (738831)
        They do. Obviously nonprofits including, presumably, newspapers that go this route if it's approved can editorialize about what the city/state/country needs most and be ok. But naming a specific candidate is a violation of IRS rules.
      • Re:1st Amendment? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:20PM (#27358817) Homepage
        The risky thing here is that newspapers practically need to cover political issues while most religions are fine staying out of political issues except when something covers what they see as a moral issue.

        So what happens when the government decides a newspaper is a little too biased in their reporting and claim that it's endorsing another candidate? Will the press have to censor themselves to avoid appearing like an endorsement?
        • I'd be interested in how it applied to the whole Op-Ed part of the paper. That stuff isn't remotely factual, and it's very clearly listed as "Opinion" right there in the name. That's where the endorsements come from: the e-board brings in all the candidates (if it can) and interviews them, and then makes a recommendation.

          Anyway, the whole idea of bias is impossible to define. Everyone thinks a paper is biased if it doesn't reflect their personal world view. I've seen liberals and conservatives up in arms ab

        • by quanticle (843097)

          The press won't have to censor itself any more than other nonprofits who deal with government issues. Its not like this is completely uncharted legal water - precedent does exist regarding what sorts of statements a nonprofit can make without those statements constituting an explicit endorsement of a candidate.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DragonWriter (970822)

            The press won't have to censor itself any more than other nonprofits who deal with government issues.

            Most tax-exempt nonprofits that deal with government issues don't have to censor themselves at all, only charities (to which donations are tax-deductible for the donor) have to do that. Most tax-exempt nonprofits aren't prohibited from endorsing candidates, and many are quite active in doing so (e.g., the Sierra Club and the NRA, among many others, as nonprofits organizations that are tax-exempt under 26 U.

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        Oh is that why the Catholic Church hasn't swung the ban hammer on some of the politicians, who lie about some of the church's stances?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DragonWriter (970822)

          Oh is that why the Catholic Church hasn't swung the ban hammer on some of the politicians, who lie about some of the church's stances?

          The bigger reason for that is that the Catholic Church contains about the same distribution of political perspectives as the public at large, and even the Catholic heirarchy is only slightly less diverse.

          Plus, the Catholic Church isn't, in the last couple centuries, quite as vigorous about the public use of the "ban hammer" as it once was, perhaps having learned, through seve

      • Picky, picky, picky! You forget that the scoundrels are MAKING the rules up as they go along. They change them to suit their whim. I see the day coming when the Constitution is rewritten using an Etch-a-Sketch. "The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind" and boy, does this blow.
      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday March 27, 2009 @01:06PM (#27359655)

        I am not 100% sure on this, but don't churches and other nonprofits have to avoid explicit endorsements too to retain their nonprofit status?

        Nonprofit isn't a single status. Certain nonprofits to which donations are tax-deductible for the donor have to avoid "substantial involvement" in politics, including explicit endorsements, to retain that particular status (Particularly, 501(c)(3) organizations, so called because their tax exemption is established in 26 U.S.C. sec. 501(c)(3)). When the group of people who make up a 501(c)(3) want to act collectively politically, they typically set up separate organizations which are also tax-exempt nonprofits, but to which donations are not tax-deductible for the donor, which can be substantially involved in politics.

        Most tax-exempt nonprofits are not restricted in their political involvement at all. See, generally, 26 U.S.C. sec. 501 [excluding 501(c)(3)].

        Furthermore, with regard to newspapers, any newspaper which chose to become a nonprofit (i.e., not to be operated for the benefit of private owners/shareholders) could do so now and become a 501(c)(3) now with the restrictions that would be imposed by this bill. So I don't see how this really provides any new options.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      It seems to me that what this law would do is give a competitive advantage to those newspapers that avoid endorsing candidates.

      Currently, official religious organizations have tax except status in the USA.

      Non-official or small religions ( or cults) often have problem with the IRS because they can't get official recognition (sometimes).

      Though, I think Scientology has tax-except status so YMMV.

      So with your logic, the government is giving advantages to major religions over minor religions because of tax reason

      • So with your logic, the government is giving advantages to major religions over minor religions because of tax reasons.

        I think that's correct. During the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, I think some churches were going to intentionally endorse candidates, to force the IRS into court on the matter so the law could be invalidated.

        I'm not sure whatever happened with that, but I suspect the IRS avoided going after those churches. For what reason, I don't know.

    • by fructose (948996)

      You don't need to make an official endorsement to show a bias toward one side or the other.

      I think this actually fosters more discussion by allowing more voices in a particular market. If there is only one large newspaper spewing out it's story, then you can't get counterpoints from other papers. I think this bill would actually allow people to keep their voices by not letting finances silence them.

    • Re:1st Amendment? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by guyminuslife (1349809) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:18PM (#27358787)

      I would agree with you, but there's already a lot of precedent for this.

      For instance, churches are already tax exempt. (Apparent First Amendment violation number one.) But they are legally prohibited from making political endorsements, or risk losing their tax exempt status. (Apparent First Amendment violation number two.) As with all nonprofits organizations.

      A lot would have to change for this to be considered unconstitutional.

    • Isn't that abridging the freedom of the presses that want to make political statements endorsing candidates? It basically says, "Don't make political endorsements, or else we'll tax you."

      The same basic argument has already been made by churches many times [washingtonpost.com]. The answer by the Supreme Court has always been, "Endorse anyone you want, just don't expect the Federal government to subsidize it with a tax expenditure [c-span.org]." Seems like a reasonable outcome to me.

    • Re:1st Amendment? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by langelgjm (860756) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:20PM (#27358829) Journal

      Isn't that abridging the freedom of the presses that want to make political statements endorsing candidates? It basically says, "Don't make political endorsements, or else we'll tax you."

      Not really, because the assumption is that everyone deserves to be taxed. Not being taxed is the exception - it's a special privilege, and if you want that status, you are required to do certain things.

    • Re:1st Amendment? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TinBromide (921574) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:25PM (#27358921)
      Its the opposite. The government is not punishing any existing newspapers that wish to continue to endorse candidates, instead, they're providing a reward for news papers that wish to return to reporting news instead of making it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by huckamania (533052)

        It's still a stupid idea. Reporting of news is always going to be slanted one way or another. It's just as easy to not report news that hurts your candidate as it is to only report news that hurts your candidate's opponent.

        Besides, it's not taxes that are hurting the newspapers. It is that no one wants to wait until tomorrow to read something that is already old news on the web.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Splab (574204)

          Also the quality of the reporting has gone to shit (in Denmark).

          Back in the olden days in the before time before internet, becoming a journalist was extremely tough (here in Denmark), you had to have a high average in high school and getting through journalism "school" was tough. Back then reporters could spell their own name without looking it up, they could ask intelligent questions rather than just writing down whatever their subject was saying.

          These days you have to look hard to find a single article th

      • Re:1st Amendment? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by inviolet (797804) <slashdot.ideasmatter@org> on Friday March 27, 2009 @01:27PM (#27360033) Journal

        Its the opposite. The government is not punishing any existing newspapers that wish to continue to endorse candidates, instead, they're providing a reward for news papers that wish to return to reporting news instead of making it.

        Suppose you are the Salt Lake Tribune, and you want to continue as a regular newspaper, in which event you will be taxed. And suppose that your competitor, the Deseret News or whatever, chooses tax-exempt status and hence gets a 20% 'reward'.

        Do you think you'll be able to compete with that for long? How are you able to believe that in this situation, the government is "not punishing" your Salt Lake Tribune?

        There is no way to turn the sow's ear of preferential tax breaks into a silk purse of "fair economic controls" or "level playing field" or "reward Paul without punishing Peter".

    • Re:1st Amendment? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:29PM (#27358997) Homepage Journal

      Why not just Newspapers?
      Why not TV?
      Blogs?
      Magazines?
      What is the Press these days?
      I am all for the press not endorsing candidates but I just don't see that happening.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      It seems to me that what this law would do is give a competitive advantage to those newspapers that avoid endorsing candidates.

      Not really.
      http://groups.google.com/group/alt.journalism.newspapers/browse_thread/thread/7d20a09702df3dc8 [google.com]

      Although his bill would expressly permit nonprofits to publish newspapers, there is nothing under current law to prevent them from doing so. [...] The only major substantive change in the Cardin bill is a provision that would allow nonprofit newspapers to sell commercial ad space free of charge, provided that at least as much space is allotted for editorial content
      as for ads.

      There are already non-profit news organizations that get along just fine.
      And nothing I've read contradicts what that google groups posting says.

      The only thing that isn't 100% clear, to me, is whether the current non-profit newspapers operate under Section 501(c)3 of the IRS tax code (which is what everyone is so scared of & the google groups post elaborates on) or if they operate under some other fr

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chabil Ha' (875116)

      Not only that, but why are we trying to resuscitate the dying corpse of print media? If you got 10-20 min. This is a really great article [shirky.com] on this subject. Elevator speech of the article: We don't need newspapers, we need journalism. There are opportunities to be had by these businesses, but they are unwilling to adapt and embrace them. **AA easily fit this same situation.

  • Would that make any capital gains on your shares in a newspaper tax exempt as well?

    Or would any newspaper apply for non-profit status have to buy all their public shares and go private?

    Either way, I don't think Murdoch would make his papers non-political.

  • Great (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:13PM (#27358695) Homepage

    Why not just make everything tax exempt? Then everyone would be more profitable, not just the failed buggy-whip companies.

  • Indivuduals should be equal in the eyes of the law. No special groups, no nonprofits. The "churches" already scam this all way too much.

    If you want a low tax, go with this:
    http://www.apttax.com/ [apttax.com]

    Loophole are just avenues of abuse by which the well structured, well-to-do (read: corporations) with lawyers get away with paying less than their fair share.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      Indivuduals should be equal in the eyes of the law. No special groups, no nonprofits. The "churches" already scam this all way too much.

      The constitution specifically was clearly written for tax exceptions for these matters.

      In fact if you wanted to legally avoid taxes you could invest in state Municipal funds because the constitution specifically says the Federal government cannot tax state funds directly. Also, they had a big hoo-doo back in the 1790's over this matter and the consensus (with the founding f

    • by RingDev (879105)

      Wow, I had never heard of this before. Thanks for the link.

      -Rick

  • Good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fructose (948996) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:14PM (#27358717) Homepage
    Considering that when a local newspaper goes under a small part of the community is gone, I think this is a good idea. These small papers fill the niche market that are only in small communities have and help promote local issues that larger newspapers tend to gloss over. Losing the political endorsements would actually be a good thing since it might make the papers less biased. Providing both sides of an issue is much more informative than printing one sided articles because of the political leanings of the paper.
  • i like it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitalsushi (137809) <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:15PM (#27358727) Journal

    I think this is a really great idea. It forces them to be a little less biased, and it keeps well-written articles available. The natural beauty of print is that it's costly to publish, compared to digitally. This tends to force the writing to be polished, which online articles, blogs specifically, never achieve. There's just something nice about reading an article someone else has proofread before you. It's jarring to read blogs that have foregone this, as you tend to notice the little grammatical mistakes everywhere. Or worse, it's syntactically correct, but semantically rubbish.

  • by chill (34294) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:15PM (#27358729) Journal

    You mean we can look forward to having an entire week's worth of issues, once a quarter, be full of nothing but spots begging for donations? Yeah, that'll make subscription rates soar!

    • That is my first thought - what is preventing them from doing this right now?

      There is noting that says you can't incorporate a "business" as a non-profit, or rather nothing prevents a non-profit from generating revenue. One of the major disadvantages is that since you don't have profit, it's hard to have investors, which makes getting capital for expansion harder.

      So to me the most important question is what does this bill allow the newspaper companies to do that a normal non-profit couldn't and is that real

  • BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anenome (1250374) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:16PM (#27358735)

    That's bullshit, if a news organization cannot survive in the market it doesn't deserve to exist. We don't need another NPR-style organization. News is not Sesame St. for adults. The papers are facing the 21st century with a 19th century technology, WHAT DID THEY THINK WAS GONNA HAPPEN? Meanwhile, New York Times still makes me laugh every time someone links to it and it asks for registration, BS, I close the window right there. Drudge is 21st century news, adapt or die.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

      Drudge and news should never appear in the same sentence.

      The fact that Drudge and the Huffinton post and other piles of shit like them are what passes for Web journalism, is the reason so many people are worried about the demise of the traditional newspaper.

      • by Bartab (233395)

        The "traditional newspaper" is printout of an AP wire feed, with a "Local" section that is written by four year olds trying to be a part of the politics, not report on them.

        Good riddance.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

          And the AP is what? You know that 95% of the AP content comes from member newspapers right? Nice circular logic there.

          I'm sorry your local rag sucks the pole, but that's not a good basis for condemning the entire industry.

    • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:27PM (#27358957) Homepage Journal

      Drudge is 21st century news, adapt or die.

      In case you didn't notice, Drudge and his host of imitators are news aggregators, not reporters. The stories they link too have to come from somewhere. If all the old line, stale, MSM news outlets that people love to bitch about closed up shop, the blogosphere would have precious little to do.

    • Without newspapers, "news" sites like drudge would cease to exist as well because all he does is copy/past articles from real journalists. If Drudge is 21st century, then why does his webpage look like it was designed in 1993?
  • Doing this for the big three would also save them. Money would be generated from taxes on selling things like gasoline and servicing these cars/trucks at dealerships.

    I wonder for how long these companies can last given that for GM, which owned almost 75% of the market, has seen share dwindling to less then one-third. Sad indeed.

  • They've been replaced by newswebsites, just the same as the grass-eating horse was replaced by a gasoline-eating engine. There's no point to keeping around old, inefficient, and environmentally-damaging papers when the web can fulfill the same role.

    In fact my local paper just started a website that looks identical to the old paper-based product, but with the advantage of (1) not killing trees (2) not burning millions of gallons for delivery trucks (3) early delivery at 2pm instead of waiting til 6pm, and (

  • by Syncerus (213609) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:21PM (#27358843)

    The best part of Capitalism is letting bad business fail. If the newspapers can't fund themselves legitimately through voluntary commerce, like any other business, they need to fail, as they deserve.

    With tax-exempt status, they exists solely at the mercy of government legislation. What are the chances they will criticize the government that grants them favored status?

    This is a recipe for State control of news dissemination.

    • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Friday March 27, 2009 @01:10PM (#27359723)

      The best part of Capitalism is letting bad business fail.

      If the bailouts Congress has been handing out so freely haven't convinced you that we aren't really in a capitalistic society any more, nothing ever will. We're running an unholy union of capitalism and socialism right now, and I really wish we'd pick one of the two and stick with it. As it is, we get the drawbacks of both, and the benefits of neither.

  • by Nimey (114278) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:21PM (#27358845) Homepage Journal

    but they surely will still have their respective slants on stories, which political cartoons they carry, and so on.

  • If they are losing money, they are not being taxed anyway (even the federal tax code has limits).

    Just between us, are you comfortable with a newspaper's independence if government officials and bureaucrats can threaten their tax-exempt status?

    Couple this with the return of the fairness doctrine, and you have a recipe for an Orwellian experience.
  • Considering costs... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RobBebop (947356) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:26PM (#27358937) Homepage Journal

    The two primary costs of operating a newspaper are (a) paying the reporters, and (b) printing papers. We all know subscriptions are down and that the medium is evolving so that only the largest national papers can afford to print copies. Also, readership in local areas doesn't really demand printed copies as much as they want access to the information. For example, one thing local reporters cover is town council meetings and police reports. Thanks largely to digital search mechanisms, it's way easier to grab this information from the pages of a reputable townie news service website than to sift through a printed paper.

    So, I see the costs of printing a newspaper disappearing over the years and that leaves only the cost of paying reporters. My question is... what's to stop the small newspapers from firing the majority of their staff and operating like Internet newspapers with self-moderated volunteer staffs? All it'd take is to deploy Slashcode, buy-in from town administrators and business owners, and a critical mass of town residents to begin operating a near-free town news service.

    Meanwhile, I see "tradition newspapers" as an occupation disappearing, regardless of tax exempt status or not.

    And look at it this way... the newspaper profit model has been largely based on ad-revenue for so long that a simple "local" implementation of Craigslist could easily facilitate job postings, garage sales, and local advertising so that tiny, tiny charges for these would pay the small staff that's needed to maintain the hardware and post the most interesting stories on the mainpage.

  • by CHK6 (583097) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:26PM (#27358939)
    If video killed the radio star, then the Internet killed the newspaper. Even not-for-profit entities have to make money to pay the employees and that well of money to drying up. As younger generations tap into on demand electronic services, at best the newspaper is already a day behind.

    The unfortunate side is small communities will lose their commentary voice for opt-in pieces on local issues. If it wasn't for the local newspaper I wouldn't have a clue on what the city council does or what the school board is doing. The local news channels don't recognize small towns and all they report on is local crime and traffic reports.
  • by mathmathrevolution (813581) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:36PM (#27359117)

    Presumably the goal is to preserve newspapers as a necessary source of information gathering. The idea is that in the age of the internet, we face a free-rider problem and fundamental news gathering is less profitable. Ostensibly journalists are performing a public service.

    But how well this proposed solution will address the real problem? There are lots of right-wing newspapers that are not profitable but they have dedicated corporate sponsors so they keep operating. Consider the Washington Times, or the Pittsburgh Tribune. If we let newspapers be non-profits we are giving a huge tax-break to Richard Mellon Scaife, and Rupert Murdoch, and Sun Myung Moon. All of the money these guy pump into their right-wing propaganda machines will be tax-deductible.

    I want to save newspapers too, but this proposal will incentivize more propaganda than it will actual news.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:39PM (#27359173) Homepage Journal
    Considering churches get non-profit, and even some HMOs as well, I would say that newspapers have much more of the public interest in mind than either of the other two. Churches and HMOs generally pay their top employes more than most newspapers; but yet where does the non-profit status currently go?
  • Desperation effort (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:39PM (#27359189) Homepage

    You have to realize how desperate the newspaper industry has become. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer printed their last paper edition last week. They're just a web site now, and they distribute their news via Twitter. That's how far down they've come. The Detroit Free Press only prints on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday now. The San Francisco Chronicle may go next.

    And those were once Great Metropolitan Dailies. Little papers go under every day.

    Nothing is really replacing them. Blogs are mostly punditry; few have paid reporters. If anything, the future may be TV news presented via the Web. TV news has historically been time-limited, but that's not a Web problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      And those were once Great Metropolitan Dailies.

      Which is where all the problem is, really.

      Its the dailies, which have largely lost their local character by merging into giant national media empires, slashed local staffs, and turned into nothing but outlets for (1) wire stories that are available in every news outlet, on the web, and through TV news, (2) syndicated content that, again, is available equally everywhere, including often on the web for free, etc. Surprisingly enough, with most of their content t

    • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday March 27, 2009 @02:06PM (#27360717)

      Maybe they never should have been dailies in the first place? Perhaps the fact that they are now only printing when there is enough there to print is a GOOD THING. Now they aren't wasting several thousands of trees daily to print fluff that no one actually gave a flying fuck about in the first place other than the person who wrote it and the company that is trying to justify to people why the need to buy a daily subscription.

      There really isn't THAT much news in the world that people NEED to know about, even less that people care about, far less still that people will actually bother to read about.

      You seem to think that the newspapers were 'needed' before and 'needed to have daily issues'. I suggest that the need was far less than you think and was nothing more than a way for them to take in more advertising and subscription revenue.

      They are failing for the same reason the record industry is. They were pushing bullshit product that people didn't actually want for more than people wanted to spend, but there were basically no alternatives. Newspapers were virtual monopolies in most towns, only larger ones had multiples. Something else came along and people realized they didn't have to subscribe that that bullshit monopoly anymore, now rather than adapt and cut their ridiculous costs and move on to the next stage, they are whining and dieing.

      Its not because we don't need/want the news. Its because the people running these businesses and the employees working for them are incapable of changing. The lack of ability to change to your environment means you either have to move to a different environment or you die. The employees at newspapers that can adapt will move on. The editors, reports and management that can't, will die with their newspaper.

  • Endowments (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Friday March 27, 2009 @01:27PM (#27360029)

    David Swensen and Michael Schmidt proposed [nytimes.com] that newspapers simply receive endowments and operate off the interest, insulating them from commercial pressures and conflicts of interest. I think that's a fantastic idea, especially in conjunction with legal nonprofit status for newspapers.

  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Friday March 27, 2009 @03:16PM (#27361957) Homepage
    Newspapers replaced the town crier. Newspapers are the 21st century equivalent of the town crier. Newspapers will be replaced by something else that has advantages and disadvantages.

    Newspapers are largely full of things I don't care about and things that I don't understand why they even have like coverage of national sporting events. Aren't the multiple ESPNs and Fox Sports channels and websites enough? Why do newspapers have horoscopes? Why do they have comic strips that haven't been funny for 20+ years?

    If newspapers want to survive they need to figure out what they do better than any other medium. Coverage of what the news channels talked about yesterday isn't one of them.

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