Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New York Times Considers Foundation Funding for News

The Poynter reports that The New York Times is considering seeking foundation funding to help cover some of its news gathering costs. 


                Craig Whitney, an assistant managing editor at the Times who serves as the paper's standards editor, said in a telephone interview Friday, "[w]e've begun to ask ourselves whether it would be possible to get the kind of support that NPR does from foundations for its journalism."  He said Times editors have not yet reached any conclusions or gone to any foundations but that the idea of seeking broad foundation support for areas of coverage "seems conceivable.”  No formal committees have been formed within the paper to explore foundation funding yet but the idea has been discussed by the top editors who make up the paper's masthead.  Whitney stressed that the paper would be careful to avoid letting foundations have a say in specific coverage and would guard against being influenced by any particular agenda.  He said the Times has "no desire to become a nonprofit corporation." 

The idea of foundation funding, which was first discussed by the editors last year, seems to have been rejuvenated by the recent events involving the free lance environmental journalist Lindsey Hoshaw.  Hoping to create a multimedia slide show and maybe an article on the mass of floating trash in the middle of the

Pacific Ocean

, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Hoshaw approached The New York Times for backing.  Although the paper expressed interest in the project, it could only offer $700, which was $9,300 short of the estimated expenses.  Instead of giving up, Hoshaw turned to Spot.Us, a non-profit that gives journalists the opportunity to make a pitch and for the public to commission the journalism that it wants.  The pitch Hoshaw made had incredible success, raising over $4,600 towards a goal of $6,000.


            This could be an indicator of how we’ll end up paying for the news stories important to us in the future.  The Times, in an opinion piece, acknowledged the events as a step in a new direction, one that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. 




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