Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You say you got a real solution, well you know, we'd all love to see the plan

Here's a new business model for news that makes more sense to me than most of what's under discussion these days: community ownership. Their model? The Green Bay Packers.

I saw this on The Stranger's SLOG blog, tipped by a tweet from Jay Rosen (jayrosen_nyu).

Community ownership seems preferable to the "endowed" newspaper folks seem to envision as an alternative to market-based enterprises. It would presumably have more standing in the community than an olympian, insulated non-profit (though what the community owns could itself be a non-profit, of course).

I doubt sufficient community support could be found for a second paper in a two newspaper town, but if San Francisco (for instance) lost its only daily, that might be different.

Here's a taste of The Stranger's suggestion:

One model under consideration is the so-called Packers Model—as in the Green Bay Packers, "the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the United States." (A model that, I just realized, Jonathan Golob first floated here on Slog on January 9th, the same day that Hearst announced it would likely be shuttering the P-I's print edition.)


  1. OK, so I'm sad to have been reading about the S.F. Chronicle and curious about the current state of journalism. (I can almost remember when one could say "journalism" and not giggle.) A short flick through the network of tubes and here's Howard blogging about that very subject! I did smile reading through some of the recent posts and counter-posts, recalling a slow afternoon many years ago sitting in Howard's office. I was doing my usual rant that news would go digital and folks would be reading it on computer screens instead of paper, and Howard was being his usual kind and tolerant self but proclaiming it would never happen in our lifetimes.

    Doris Lessing wrote a lovely bit years ago about the future of journalism. I don't remember specifics, but the outline described a person who entered and shared the truth and stories of a place with the wider world. A bit Enderish, but it seems a shame that just as the technology is readily available to help do the job, there's no one left to pay the reporter. (What in the world were the folks at McClatchy thinking? "...nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure" was Sigourney, not Howard.) I've hardly considered it before this evening, but initially I'd have to side with the Rev. on using grants and foundations of some sort.

    Anyway, I want this sorted out soonest, before all the good papers go away. It seems a fair demand that Howard drop any idea of retirement and devote himself to recreating journalism and helping it reach new heights of public service. No more boards, no more money - you have enough, you know. I'll check in and see how it's going. Oh, and tell Barb I said "Hi!"

  2. Anonymous1:24 PM

    hey turdboy, when are you going to put that bullet in yourself. we are all waiting

  3. Lenny2:47 PM

    Well, if Barb is just going to call me "turdboy," then I take back my greeting to her.

  4. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Won't work Howard.

    You can't have real journalists answering to community leaders. Just try covering an illegal City Council executive session in that atmosphere.

  5. Good God, Howard, your bridge just collapsed into the canyon. Good smart journalists are the street, some who came to the Bee not that long ago. Smaller news staffs can't cover much of anything, why pretend. The MNI execs cutting their own pay by 15 percent is lovely but comeon, that's sacrifice? Working for $1 a year might show fortitude. Today shows panic. I know you are not there, but your departure doesn't get you off the hook on this stuff. Sorry pal.