A — possible — future for newspapers

From a Salon.com article about a possible path to the future for newspapers: nonprofit arena.

I’ve always scratched my head in some wonderment when I’ve compared newspapers to television (I know. I know. It’s not a palatable comparison in some — many — minds. Stay with me.). Broadcast television stations, the ones that carried the weekly Disney movie, the safari ride-alongs, the evening news and the sitcoms of their day, were crafted around a sort of variety store format. There was something for everyone — and the programming, as a byproduct, provided a strange cultural glue that bound us all, somehow. A sort of shared experience that made for good water cooler talk. Enter cable television and then hundreds of television station choices. Broadcast out and narrow cast, which caters to specific tastes and preferences in an increasingly fragmented market, in. Along comes the Internet and, well, you know the rest.

Still, newspapers have persisted at remaining a sort of broadcast icon, with something for every one. That’s not necessarily bad. But it may be outdated. And, maybe, a more focused model will emerge. A thought.

Salon.com article here. Excerpt below…

But newspapers have been driven to the brink by the expectation of making the kind of double-digit profits that large corporate owners demand, and by the financial shenanigans, including loading up on debt, that corporate ownership has brought. That’s why some observers, notably financial experts, believe the future of the news business is not business at all.

Wait, did someone say $35K a year? That would have sounded good in comparison to the $28K —  we promise, we love and adore you and here’s a 48 cent raise to prove it  — wages at the Record Searchlight. Second excerpt.

Jay Weiner is one of MinnPost’s star reporters. A former sportswriter, his relentless coverage of the Norm Coleman-Al Franken recount case at MinnPost won him the Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Award for excellence in breaking news. The 54-year-old Weiner, who has been a full-time daily journalist for 31 years, took a buyout from the Minneapolis Star Tribune in June of 2007. At the newspaper, he made $80,000 a year with a pension, health insurance, vacations and overtime. Weiner, who has two kids in college, now makes $700 a week, working as many as 60 hours a week with no vacations, no overtime, no healthcare and no pension, on contract for MinnPost.

“Now I have to work 52 weeks a year to make $35,000 and pay for my own Internet access, phone, notebooks and pens,” he says. Yet even as he wonders how long he can continue to afford to do this gig, he revels in the excitement of working at a start-up news organization, not a shrinking newspaper.

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