It's no secret that newspapers' circulations are declining and that there is a need for a new standard of operation. Yes, a lot of print publications are reaching to go digital and move into new media but that still doesn't solve any problems for the ever decreasing rate of newspapers.
An interesting approach that I first heard about in my ethics class last semester has popped up recently in the February/March issue of the American Journalism Review and also online at the Poynter Institute. It's the non-profit approach.
While there are new non-profit, grant-funded news projects driving investigative and enterprise journalism, government funding is another route that newspapers may be traveling down. Nicholas Lemann, Columbia Journalism School Dean, sees direct government subsidies as a last resort for newspapers but sees a lot of promise in indirect subsidies from non-profit organizations.
Government funding clearly presents some sticky situations though and may lead to trespassing over the line of the First Amendment, as Amy Gahran states, "Uncle Sam probably wouldn't provide newspaper funding without very strong and uncomfortable strings attached."
But funding from non-profits may be a way for newspapers to maintain quality journalism--if done right. AJR's working journalists dedicated to investigative reporting, their stories will be distributed to traditional news organizations, free of charge, for publication or broadcast. Paul Steiger, former managing editor at the Wall Street Journal, is serving as editor-in-chief of ProPublica.
It's an interesting time for journalism and newspapers will have to find a way to adapt. The non-profit approach may not solve all of its problems but it may be able to at least keep newspapers' heads above the water for a little while longer.