Business Models, Strategies, Issues and Trends
7 Family ownership and trusts
7Family ownership and trusts Summary In Greek mythology Zeus, the king of the gods, had a goatskin shield or a goat- skin slung over his shoulder as a piece of armor. This gives us the concept of the aegis, from the Greek word for goatskin, meaning a protector or patron. Some of the biggest and most prestigious titles and brands in journalism have thrived because they are protected by family trusts. They enjoy more freedom to innovate and remain truer to journalistic ideals than corporate entities beholden to shareholders and quarterly results. But this unique form of ownership has not made media houses any less vulnerable to recession. Some of the family trusts that succeed financially employ some kind of revenue-generating mechanism outside of their prestige journalism title. This chapter describes the structure of media trusts at some well-known media organizations and outlines how they operate. It also acknowledges that some family trust titles have gone into decline under the control of more recent generations of the family who have neither the interest nor the smarts to keep the company going, or simply want to cash out. The essence of this chapter is simple: In tough economic times dedicated media companies do whatever is needed to protect the core journalism. Sometimes it is not about having a better or smarter business model than anyone else. It is about being willing to focus on the long term – keeping one’s eye on the prize – and appreciating the influence of structures on how...
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