Media Musings

A blog for students and stalkers of Brian Steffen, centering on issues of concern in media studies.

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Location: Indianola, Iowa, United States

Hello all... I'm a professor of communication studies at Simpson College and a junkie of all things media. I'm blogging on life on the faculty at Simpson and working with some of the best young future professionals in the world.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nonprofit Journalism

Looking for a way to do good journalism without having to pay the piper, in the form of corporate owners who are simply bottom-line oriented? There is a model in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the local Times newspaper is making a profit -- albeit a "mere" 20 percent margin per year -- and the owners are happy.

In fact, says editor Paul Tash, the Times doesn't want to post more than a 20 percent margin because that would likely mean that the ownership group isn't investing enough into the core business.

So who's the forward-thinking owner? Time Warner? Gannett? McClatchy? Actually, the Times isn't owned by any media giant, and there is no publisher-baron at the helm. Rather, St. Petersburg's newspaper is owned by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism-education organization started by former Times owner Nelson Poynter in 1975. Poynter bequeathed all his shares in the newspaper to the institute he founded so that it might serve as a training group for journalists and educators.

And it's succeeded on that count. So when you visit the Poynter Institute (I highly recommend a January-February seminar so you get out of the snow for a few days), make sure you thank the memory of Nelson Poynter for offering us an alternative model of running a newspaper. (And you, in fact, can do just that. There's a battered underwood typewriter at the institute where you can record your thoughts.)


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