Public Support.7

Posted on 23. Oct, 2008 by in Uncategorized

Richard Tofel of ProPublica says endowments are a form of public support that will endure.

The group debates the merits of temporary projects and pilot projects versus permanent journalism.

Tofel points out that cultural institutions like symphonies are supported in the non-profit model across the country.  He says virtually none are operated on a for-profit basis.  
“Some of these traditional journalism organizations–before the next calendar year–are going to fail,” Tofel says.  
“If you woke up one morning and there was no Philadelphia Inquirer, and you live in the Philadelphia area,” Tofel says, people might react–as they would if their symphony closed.  “I would argue that the Philadelphia Inquirer would be unlike any of the (news) failures of the 1970’s.  …Nothing like that has happened in this country historically in a very long time.  I think it would be a wakeup call.”
Leonard Witt says often his idea is shot down because “people won’t pay for (news).”  So, he asks, why do we do it?  He says community is more saleable than journalism.  Often people say they hate journalism, Witt, says, except for him, or Minnesota Public Radio.  Community commits them to the news product.
Tofel points out that news has a value, but people don’t pay enough to support it.  The business model has stopped working.
Peter Osnos points out that not much money from information/entertainment spending goes to news content creators.  He brings up the C-Span example, which isn’t in fact paid by the government: “You know what pays for it?  Four cents per subscriber.”  He thinks public media should insist that deliverers of public information should pay for news in a regulated, neutral system.
“C-Span is mostly a transmitter of stuff,” Rosen says.  They aren’t editorial.
Osnos points out that there is original programming.  

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