A couple of blog posts discussed economic models for journalism and the strategies news corporations are using to stay viable. An article by the Economist explores a new perspective worthy of discussion: Philanthro-journalism. Reporters without orders: Can journalism funded by private generosity compensate for the decline of the commercial kind? http://www.economist.com/node/21556568
My question after reading this article is: How should the economic model of journalism evolve to ensure the greatest freedom of press and preserve the important function of journalists in a democratic society?
Stephanie Craft, in her essay “Press Freedom and Responsibility,” raises an interesting point: Freedom House ranked the United States 16th in the level of freedom of the press despite the fact that freedom of the press is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution. Iceland and Finland, who ranked at the top, also have freedom of press and speech protected under their constitution; however, one cannot denigrate the doctrines of religious groups. In addition, Finland’s government provides direct grants to newspapers. Craft asks: Why then, do Iceland and Finland rank higher than the United States in freedom of the press?
Craft’s question indirectly answers part of my question; while the idea of government-funded newspapers is provocative in the United States, it does work in other democracies and should be considered as a possible source of support for newspapers to ensure the survival of a free press.
The Economist concludes that philanthro-journalism is only a partial solution and journalism still depends on the old model. However, I would argue that the future trend is going toward an economic model where journalism will be supported by increasingly diverse sources. It will likely be based on a combination of advertisers, government funding, and philanthropy.
S. Craft. (2010). “Press Freedom and Responsibility.” in Meyers, C. (Ed.) “Journalism Ethics: A Philosophical Approach,” Cambridge: Oxford University Press.