Apocalypse 17.5: Brownie Points only go so far

Posted: February 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Apocalypse Series, Journalism | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

My reaction to Jim McDermott:
NPR and PBS are great because they provide access to consumers who cant pay for fancy digital cable to get their MSNBC but the reason it works is that in terms of keeping content independent, and the wages they pay to keep top talent, NPR and PBS still have to compete with MSNBC and CNN et al. If ALL media were publicly financed, ie if you had a state controlled news media, that would be not so great: You’d get into sticky situations like the one that ensnared the BBC over Gaza. [To his credit, Rep. McDermott acknowledged this danger when we spoke.]

The other “nonprofit” model that I’ve heard bandied about is the one used at educational institutions, ie funding journalism by contributions to an endowment. News flash, folks: endowments are a big part of how universities stay alive, yes, but they also CHARGE FOR the end product.

The question is, are you as a consumer more likely to be persuaded that yes, you ARE actually okay clicking through an ad or more likely to be persuaded that yes, you ARE actually okay paying to read the site. I think in the end consumers will have to give ground on one of the two, unless we decide that journalism is a non-profession and shouldn’t be self-sustaining financially at all, but instead a pet project people do on the side for free while paying their bills with something else. Even if I weren’t a journo myself, I’d be unenthused by this option–I WANT to read/watch/listen to coverage of an issue from someone who spends 16 out of every 24 hours on that issue, not someone who has a day job doing something else entirely.