A radical plan from the New York Times to save itself?
Just days after seeking all but usurious, loan-shark style financing from a Mexican mogul it once all but accused of being a thief, The New York Times has floated an even more desperate gambit to keep itself afloat.
The proposal, outlined in an Op-Ed column written by outside financial analysts, could also represent one of the first serious efforts by the legacy media to grab a slice of the federal bailout pie.
"In the past decade ... as Americans embraced the Internet, newspaper circulation has declined every year. Advertising revenues, which are tied to circulation levels, fell even faster. Classified ads, in particular, suffered as the Web offered cheaper, easier and more effective alternatives."
"By endowing our most valued sources of news we would free them from the strictures of an obsolete business model and offer them a permanent place in society, like that of America?s colleges and universities. Endowments would transform newspapers into unshakable fixtures of American life, with greater stability and enhanced independence that would allow them to serve the public good more effectively."
Swensen and Schmidt calculate that it would take an endowment along the lines of $5 billion to finance the Times operations. (They do not specify whether or not that figure includes the cost of the Times's Obama inauguration party, or of Times staffers treating each other to drinks and meals.) The authors note:
"Only a handful of foundations and wealthy individuals have the money required to endow, and thereby preserve, our nation?s premier news-gathering organizations. Enlightened philanthropists must act now or watch a vital component of American democracy fade into irrelevance."
"... were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter."
"The advertisement is the most truthful part of a newspaper."
See also: Boston Globe: 'Bailout Journalists!'"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."