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The Nonprofit Road

"Never has there been a greater need for independent, original, credible information about our complex society and the world at large. Never has technology better enabled the instantaneous global transmission of pictures, sounds, and words to communicate such reporting. But all this is occurring in a time of absentee owners, harvested investments, hollowed-out newsrooms, and thus a diminished capacity to adequately find and tell the stories. The standard euphemism to characterize these peculiar times is that the news media are undergoing a historic “transformation,” which is certainly true. What has also been true for years now is that media corporations are desperately seeking a way to remain viable financially in the wild marketplace of, well, everything else. And at the moment, the landscape looks precarious, particularly for serious editors and reporters.

In the past couple of years alone, everything but a piano has fallen on the head of the serious press: Rupert Murdoch bought Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal; Knight Ridder, the nation’s most Pulitzer-honored newspaper chain, was dismantled; the McClatchy Company sold the Minneapolis Star Tribune to a private equity firm for less than half of its purchase price eight years earlier; and hundreds of reporters and editors accepted buyout offers at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Globe, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and many other newspapers."

So begins an interesting piece, "The Nonprofit Road" in the Columbia Journalism Review, for anyone who cares about the news we get and the source. The piece was written Charles Lewis, a former producer of 60 Minutes, a journalist-in-residence at American University in Washington, and president of the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

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