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Funding Journalism in the Digital Age

Business Models, Strategies, Issues and Trends

Jeff Kaye and Stephen Quinn

The news media play a vital role in keeping the public informed and maintaining democratic processes. But that essential function has come under threat as emerging technologies and changing social trends, sped up by global economic turmoil, have disrupted traditional business models and practices, creating a financial crisis. Quality journalism is expensive to produce – so how will it survive as current sources of revenue shrink? Funding Journalism in the Digital Age not only explores the current challenges, but also provides a comprehensive look at business models and strategies that could sustain the news industry as it makes the transition from print and broadcast distribution to primarily digital platforms. The authors bring widespread international journalism experience to provide a global perspective on how news organizations are evolving, investigating innovative commercial projects in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Norway, South Korea, Singapore and elsewhere.
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9 Partnerships – adding value

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Partnerships offer one way to share costs, if all parties win in the arrangement. This chapter begins with a study of the successful partnership between The New York Times, PBS and the graduate school of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley and considers if this could be replicated. The chapter also looks at other innovations such as GlobalPost and Politico, and examples of media houses that are sharing content where it is mutually beneficial.

In a widely discussed opinion piece in The New York Times published in January 2009, David Swensen and Michael Schmidt proposed newspapers should become endowed institutions like universities. “Endowments would enhance newspapers’ autonomy while shielding them from the economic forces that are now tearing them down,” the pair wrote in an article headlined “News you can endow.” It is understandable the authors should think in terms of universities because Swensen is the chief investment officer at Yale, which has one of the biggest endowments in the US, and Schmidt is a financial analyst at the university. An endowment of the country’s “most valued sources of news” would free them from the grip of an “obsolete business model” and offer quality newspapers a permanent place in society, Swensen and Schmidt wrote. “Endowments would transform newspapers into unshakable fixtures of American life, with greater stability and enhanced independence that would allow them to serve the public good more effectively.”

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, discussed...

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