New Media

Wire creator David Simon testifies on the future of journalism

David Simon, Senate Commerce Committee

David Simon, former Baltimore Sun reporter and creator of the HBO series The Wire, testified this week before the Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing on the future of journalism. These are his prepared comments.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet
Hearing on the Future of Journalism, May 6, 2009

Testimony of David Simon (Baltimore Sun, 1982-95, Blown Deadline Productions, 95-09, Baltimore, Md.)

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Duke conference to explore non-profit approaches to sustaining newsrooms

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.

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Bailouts for media moguls? Thinking outside the (newspaper) box

DeeDee Halleck

John Nichols and Robert McChesney have written a widely posted article searching for answers to the current emergencies in the newspaper business. They recognize the crisis as an opportunity to rethink public media in general and their suggestions for remedy are at least a provocative starter for the needed reassessment and creative activism. They suggest the government pump in $60 billion over the next three years, a pricetag that is similar to, though less than, the handouts to AIG and the US banks. It's hard to believe, however, that anyone could seriously want to salvage the "print-fitted" U.S. corporate news.

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From laid off Seattle reporter to accidental web entrepreneur

Renay San Miguel, TechNewsWorld, TechNewsWorld

It's been another eventful week in the continuing original drama, "The Death of Journalism As We Knew It."

Our story so far:

  • Near the beaches of San Diego, the leadership of the Associated Press drew a line in the sand Monday by announcing at its annual members meeting that it would sic its lawyers on online news aggregators that illegally use its material. It's also going to develop technology that will track its content usage. And although AP chairman Dean Singleton didn't mention its name, Google apparently was hounded enough in the Guilty Conscience department that it felt compelled to blog about its license to scrape AP content and its ability to help newspapers stay afloat with ad revenue.
  • The next day, near those same sunny Southern California beaches, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the Newspaper Association of America that it is imperative they find a new Web business model that included mobile options -- but please don't give up on those online advertising revenues. Say, did we mention that Google can help you sell those ads and is working on mobile options?
  • On that same day in Dallas, reporters, photographers and editors at the Morning News started getting the dreaded human resources calls they were warned about in January as parent company A.H. Belo began implementing personnel cuts. The Metro section was gutted; sports also took a big hit, which can mean only one thing: The Cowboys/Mavericks/Rangers/Stars must be moving en masse to San Antonio. Dmncuts.blogspot.com gave those laid off, and those who remained, a chance to vent.
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Persephone Miel: What Should PBS Do?

Josh Wilson, Independent Arts and Media

Persephone Miel, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center, brings some Internet-era vision for the idea of public media. Rather than look to new nonprofits and new structures, she says the real opportunity is to activate existing public media -- PBS, NPR, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- to more effectively serve people and communities. But this may require a reinvention of what an NPR or PBS "station" is, as well as a reimagining of the role of taxpayer funding in this picture.

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An open letter to journalists

Peggy Holman, Journalism That Matters

It’s time for a new compact between Journalists and the Public. We need you. Your work is vital to the well-being of us all. I can’t imagine a functional democracy without the passionate commitment journalists make to digging deeply into what matters. It is a sacred trust and I thank you for doing it on our behalf.

If I – and others –believe that, why do so many of us seem hostile to the press? Because we feel betrayed. Where were you when we needed you? Where were your warnings about the state of the economy? About the lies of weapons of mass destruction? About the many stories closer to home that affect our lives and well-being? Did you miss the clues yourself? Did you know and not help us hear your messages? How could you let us down?

If you don’t feel trusted, please understand that it is in part the corporation behind you that many of us don’t trust. When my primary identity shifted from citizen to consumer something died. You are not your corporation. I don’t need them. I need you.

If you’re frustrated or angry about the state of the media, you are not alone. We are all frustrated. It’s time to take that energy and refocus it together.

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Murdoch: web papers should charge readers

Yinka Adegoke, Reuters

Rupert Murdoch, whose media company News Corp owns one of the few U.S. newspapers that makes people pay to read its news on the Web, said more papers will have to start doing the same to survive.

Murdoch, who bought The Wall Street Journal and its parent company Dow Jones & Co in 2007, said online advertising, which most U.S. publishers hope will offset ad revenue declines at their print divisions, will not cover their costs.

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Huffington Post launches journalism venture

David Bauder, AP

The Huffington Post said Sunday that it will bankroll a group of investigative journalists, directing them at first to look at stories about the nation's economy.

The popular blog is collaborating with The Atlantic Philanthropies and other donors to launch the Huffington Post Investigative Fund with an initial budget of $1.75 million. That should be enough for 10 staff journalists who will primarily coordinate stories with freelancers, said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

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Former P-I staffers hope to launch new journalism Web sites

Eric Pryne, Seattle Times

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's print death has spawned at least two local initiatives to launch new Web sites devoted to in-depth journalism, and to explore new ways to pay for it.

Laid-off P-I reporters and editors are involved in both efforts. One group has been talking with public broadcasters, the other with academics.

People involved in both initiatives say their plans are far from firm, and that finding a new business model to support serious journalism could take time.

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Newspapers as non-profits? Tax savings but some big downsides

David Westphal, Communications Leadership Policy blog

Given the fact that many newspapers seem headed toward nonprofit status anyway, it's perhaps not surprising that someone would try to make it official.

Legislation introduced this week by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland would enable newspapers to establish themselves as tax-exempt nonprofits and qualify for significant expense savings courtesy of Uncle Sam. Under the Cardin measure, they wouldn't have to pay income taxes on income derived from advertising sales. That's a big difference from existing IRS regulations, which customarily extract federal income taxes on advertising revenue derived by nonprofits. (There are a number of exceptions to this, including one that allows student publications to escape advertising-related income taxes.)

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