“When the going gets weird, the weird
get going.turn pro.”
–Hunter S. Thompson
Rick Edmonds of Poynter has revisited the idea of government subsidies for journalism, concluding that he’d hate for the possibility “to get throttled with a dismissive, ‘There’s a reason we can’t do that.'”
In these weird times, funding alternatives aren’t so far-fetched. Ralph Whitehead of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst said in January that the market may be failing journalism:
“What may be emerging today, however, is a serious case of market failure that can’t be – and must not be – fixed by government intervention: the failure of the private sector to provide broadly inclusive journalism that is both comprehensive and reliable enough to meet the needs of a democracy.”
Now, four months later as classified revenue vanishes into thin air daily, it’s past time to broaden the debate. Not only are journalists losing their jobs in a wholesale way that can’t be ignored even as we try to focus on the positive; whole communities are losing their voices. Volunteer blogs can’t fill all the gaps.
Ed Wasserman, Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University, awhile back wrote about alternative funding ideas in The Miami Herald. His plan, micropayments for journalism, has some big holes. Read more about it here. And Leonard Witt down in Georgia has his own interesting, and perhaps more sustainable, ideas about how to pay for journalism, through community networks.
And then keep thinking broadly about solutions, for yourself, your colleagues and the industry, about other ways to eat while still providing information to others. Hope and work for A New Deal.