(St Louis) The traditional model of paying reporters by selling subscriptions and advertisements is broken. John W. Henry paid $70 million for the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, less than the $110 million he pays Justin Pedroia of the Red Sox (which he also owns). When one second baseman is worth more than two newspapers, you know the news business is in trouble. Yet information about public issues is a public good, and the people who collect it have to be paid and supported, or we will be an ignorant and manipulable electorate.
Yesterday, in DC, I got a chance to visit the newsroom of the Center for Public Integrity. It is a full-scale news operation with a whole staff of seasoned reporters. The newsroom is quieter than most because CPI’s reporters do more number-crunching than traditional newspaper journalists do and spend less time calling people for quotes. Their business model also differs from that of traditional newspapers, in that CPI raises grants and donations for investigative journalism and then gives away the results. You can read CPI’s stories on their own website, but a lot more people read them as syndicated items in other publications or come across their findings in other reporters’ work.
This is the emerging nonprofit model for journalism in the public interest.