Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm Skeptical....

I understand that the United States is currently experiencing an economic crisis, I understand that newspapers and other elements of print journalism are taking a big hit right now, but I do not understand why this means that we should turn newspapers into nonprofit, endowed institutions..
Although the New York Times Op-Ed piece made some very compelling arguments, the idea of newspapers relying on endowments just seems unnatural to me. Call me cynical, but the thought of wealthy individuals donating money to newspapers with no strings attached seems far too good to be true (especially considering the current economic state). The role of the newspaper has always been to objectively inform the American public about matters of pressing concern, and I just don't think it's possible for papers to continue to play this role when their bank accounts are controlled by private individuals with their own agendas.
I feel like the NYT Op-Ed piece's assertion that a newspaper could remain autonomous despite the fact that it is funded through endowments is untrue. Sadly, in this day and age, the freedom to print the stories of your choice with the angles of your choice hinges partially on your fiscal autonomy.
I understand that it would be naive and just flat out wrong for me to assert that newspapers have a chance of survival if they continue to run the way they currently do. As the NYT Op-Ed piece pointed out, newspapers which are run like businesses will only continue to fail during these economic times. However I think that, despite their seemingly dismal future, newspapers have been given a great opportunity to prove themselves and cement their role in society.
Now is not the time for newspapers to throw in the towel and give up their precious autonomy; now is the time for newspapers to reinvent themselves, alter their business approaches, and do whatever it takes to continue to survive and serve the American people. I believe that if newspapers are able to do this they will be more widely respected once this economic crisis is over.

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