It's Time to Endow Newspapers

Times begs for its life
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2009 9:23 AM CST
The front page of Monday's edition of The New York Times, containing an advertisement for CBS television, is shown Jan. 5, 2009, something that would have once been unthinkable.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – Newspapers are dying, and there’s only one way to save them, write Yale's David Swensen and Michael Schmidt in today’s New York Times: Make them nonprofit, endowed institutions, like colleges. The Internet has made the for-profit model systematically unsustainable, and constant attempts to refinance and cut costs are just “Band-Aids for a gaping wound.” Endowing them would fix all that, making them “unshakable fixtures of American life.”

To gain tax-exempt status, these nonprofit papers would have to refrain from influencing legislation or participating “in any campaign activity for or against political candidates,” but that “seems minor in the context of the opinion-heavy web.” And reporters would be in the ideal situation—beholden to neither advertisers nor shareholders. Based on its current news-gathering costs, the Times would need a $5 billion endowment to keep running.