Wednesday, April 29, 2009
A very provocative and interesting article by Penelope Muse Abernathy, the Knight Chair in Journalism ant UNC Chapel Hill, examines four strategies for "saving" the N.Y. Times (assuming it needs saving). Three of these strategies rely either exclusively or primarily on nonprofit philanthropy (converting the Times to a nonprofit and raising a $5 billion endowment to pay operating costs; creating a nonprofit foundation to cover some or all news-gathering costs while leaving the Times itself as a for-profit company; and a purchase of the paper by a large nonprofit institution or consortium of institutions, such as universities, which would run it as part of the educational enterprise). But if I'm reading the paper correctly, she seems to favor a for-profit approach, with some "white knight" (Mayor Bloomberg?) buying the Times, paying off its debt, and positioning it for success in the new digital media age (hence her suggestion/speculation on Bloomberg, who has made his considerable fortune by distributing financial news via various media, including on-line, TV, radio, etc.). She mentions the possibility of using the new L3C (low-profit limited liability company) form for this last alternative.