Thursday, December 11, 2008

Berkeley paper considers going nonprofit

The Berkeley Daily Planet co-owner Becky O'Malley suggests in a column printed Wednesday that her paper might become a nonprofit, switching to a business "model familiar from public broadcasting and arts organizations." She admits that the Planet hasn't made money in the six years she and her husband Michael have owned it.

She writes:
    "If this paper is to continue to serve this community, it’s long past time for us to think about how to make it self-sustaining without our own contributed labor or even our financial subsidy. We’re by no means fabulously rich, and we’ve spent enough money by now that prudence and the larger economy require us to significantly reduce our contribution."

    "...As far as we’re aware, there’s no newspaper now in a community like Berkeley which is supported by its readers rather than by advertising. Subscriptions have long since stopped paying for newspapers. Even the New York Times has been forced to raise cash by taking a loan on its headquarters building.

    "We could, with effort, develop a model for a sustainable community newspaper which could be replicated elsewhere, at least in cities like this with a high proportion of educated and engaged residents."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The public broadcasting business model becky favors is widely misunderstood ... only a small part of most public broadcasters revenue comes from foundations (6% the last time I checked), another 15% comes from business underwriting (in exchange for commercials). Viewers contribute 25%. But the majority comes from government -- local, state and federal sources. I don't want the government funding newspapers because that will ultimately lead to censorship. If the Berkeley Daily Planet can't make it on its own, it should close. It's sad to say that, but it shouldn't be looking for a handout from those who would want to manipulate news coverage.

Anonymous said...

No surprise that the Daily Planet isn't doing very well. It's not a very attractive newspaper and the stories are poorly written and loaded with typos. The editor seems to be an amateur who is more intent on pushing her views on the community than covering the community. The coverage is one-sided and incomplete. I don't know much about the marketing/business side of the Planet, but if I were an advertiser, I'd prefer to have my ad in the EBX. I hope the City doesn't spend any money trying to bail out the Planet.