Duke conference to explore non-profit approaches to sustaining newsrooms

by Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy, Duke University

A small group of leaders from nonprofit and commercial media, foundations and academia will gather May 4-5 at Duke University’s Sanford Institute of Public Policy for a series of working sessions to explore new models for nonprofit ownership of media. The conference aims to move beyond current calls for increased nonprofit media support to the next stage: examining barriers to greater nonprofit and foundation ownership of media outlets, as well as barriers to nonprofit-sector subsidies for the creation of information.

In order to contribute to the continuing national dialogue about the future of journalism, the working group will circulate background papers and a conference summary report to foundations, nonprofits, commercial media and readers on the web during the summer of 2009.

The New York Times will be featured in one a discussion of alternative ownership structures. In a background paper prepared for the conference entitled, “A Nonprofit Model for The New York Times?”, Penelope Muse Abernathy examines four distinct nonprofit options for the paper. Abernathy, the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, uses current financial data to discuss alternative structures meant to preserve the newsgathering strengths of The Times.

“We realize that greater nonprofit involvement in the media will be only one of the many avenues explored in the search for additional revenue to support reporting,” said James T. Hamilton, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. “This conference will focus on the particular legal, economic and journalistic hurdles that may arise as nonprofits and foundations become more engaged with producing or supporting journalism.”

The conference and workshops are sponsored by the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, the Duke Center for Strategic Philanthropy, and the Duke Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Voluntarism, three research centers at the Sanford Institute

article originally published at http://www.pubpol.duke.edu/news/features/nonprofit_media_nr042209.php.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey