Even before the recession hit, there was a lot of angst — and a lot of layoffs — inside the news business as journalists fretted about how we will be able to afford to report the news. Now it's outright panic. Los Angeles Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein reportedly defended putting an advertisement on the front page of his paper by saying, "I'm just trying to keep the lights on here, folks."
And yet, out of tumult comes opportunity. And as the traditional newspaper model cracks apart, we're seeing a profusion of new proposals from actors old and new. We've heard from a few Planet Money regulars that you'd like to learn more about them.
Suggestions include the creation of industry-wide Web portals with paid memberships, micropayments charged to readers for each article viewed, and convincing deep-pocketed patrons to endow major news organizations as not-for-profit institutions. Senator John Kerry is planning hearings on the future of newspapers, prompted by the fate of the Boston Globe. Its owner, the New York Times Co., says it is losing well over $1 million a week on the Globe and has threatened to close it if unions do not make major concessions.
I'm embedding with Planet Money this week. As NPR's resident media dude, I'll be trying to check in with advocates for several major alternatives currently out there, and share some of those conversations with you.