Business Models, Strategies, Issues and Trends
4 Sponsorship and philanthropy
4Sponsorship and philanthropy Summary One method of funding journalism that is drawing increased attention is the sponsorship model. Traditionally advertising has subsidized newsgathering. With sponsorship the idea is to transfer the subsidy to wealthy individuals and founda- tions. These donors want to see quality journalism survive, and are willing to fund it. The chapter focuses on the example of ProPublica, which received a subsidy of $10 million a year for at least three years from mid-2008. It also looks at a range of smaller operations. ProPublica employs a relatively small number of journalists, even if they are the largest single grouping of investigative reporters in the US. The key issue is whether the small-scale funding examples that have arisen in recent years can be extrapolated to major newspapers. In sixteenth-century Europe business people employed letter-writers in cities where those business people traded but did not live. The letters carried the same news that a trader or merchant would need today: prices, economic conditions and news of disasters, along with rumors of war and other forms of gossip. The letters were valuable because they were current, reliable, relevant to decision-makers’ needs, and because they were not widely circulated. Those letter-writers were well paid and respected. Quality and accuracy were vital, along with an ability to interpret. Professor Jay Rosen of New York University noted in his PressThink blog that this business model exists today in the form of expensive specialty newslet- ters. But only big firms and rich people can afford...
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