NPR chief Vivian Schiller: Don’t take the work of news gatherers for granted

At this time of tremendous upheaval in American news media, its leaders should not focus on transformation at the expense of fortifying and expanding concrete, on-the-ground reporting. That was the message offered Thursday by NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller as she delivered the James L. Loper Lecture in Public Service Broadcasting at USC Annenberg. "For well over a decade, at gatherings like this, news people have obsessed about transformational technologies, vanishing business models and new paradigms of mass communication," Schiller told an audience of students, faculty members and leaders of influential Los Angeles-area media who gathered at USC Town…

U.S. gov’t, foundation subsidies of news media attract criticism in Africa

GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa — African Journalists were critical today of reports that U.S. journalists receive subsidies and payments from foundations and the U.S. government. Two recent Annenberg reports were discussed at an annual media forum here, at the Highway Africa Conference 2010: "Public Policy and Funding the News" focuses on historic and current federal subsidies for news media. And "Philanthropic Foundations: Growing Funders of the News" is an analysis of increasing foundation support for American journalism….

Is the iPad the Savior of Publishing?

I bought my 3G iPad about two weeks ago and have been playing with it every day since. That's what you do with it. Play with it. It's a fun toy. But is it a revolutionary way for the publishing business to survive? Many pundits seem to think the answer to that question depends on how much and whether readers will pay for content on the device–but they are asking the wrong question. The right question is about advertising….

Boot Camp for Journalism Entrepreneurs

Last week, I was an instructor at the News Entrepreneur Boot Camp 2010 at USC. Sponsored by the Knight Digital Media Center, USC Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, theAnnenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Public Policy(CCLP), and the Online Journalism Review, the camp brought together about 20 aspiring entrepreneurs, almost all former journalists, who are trying to create new news/information enterprises in the digital world. If you'd like to watch a video of my session, click here [from the Knight Digital Media Center], or take a look at my power point slides [below]….

Cowan & Westphal: Reality check. Shrinking government support contributes to news media economic decline

A mythology about the relationship between American government and the news business is again making the rounds, and it needs a corrective jolt. The myth is that the commercial press in this country stands wholly independent of governmental sustenance. Here's the jolt: There's never been a time in U.S. history when government dollars weren't propping up the news business. This year, federal, state and local governments will spend well over $1 billion to support commercial news publishers through tax breaks, postal subsidies and the printing of public notices….

Newspapers as non-profits? Tax savings but some big downsides

Given the fact that many newspapers seem headed toward nonprofit status anyway, it's perhaps not surprising that someone would try to make it official. Legislation introduced this week by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland would enable newspapers to establish themselves as tax-exempt nonprofits and qualify for significant expense savings courtesy of Uncle Sam. Under the Cardin measure, they wouldn't have to pay income taxes on income derived from advertising sales. That's a big difference from existing IRS regulations, which customarily extract federal income taxes on advertising revenue derived by nonprofits. (There are a number of exceptions to this, including one…

The public gets a voice in the ‘future of news’

The media revolution has reached a new and important stage: The American public is being let in on the discussion. In the last two weeks' articles in the New York Times and Time Magazine have helped push the question of "whither news media" before a much bigger audience. I say it's about time. Of course, it's not as if the industry's increasingly dire business outlook has been a secret. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings of the Tribune Co. and the Minneapolis Star Tribune were plenty telling. So was the Detroit newspapers' decision to limit home delivery to three days a…

From a press scholar, a rousing vote for the journalist

New media thinker Jay Rosen has been using the work of press scholar Daniel C. Hallin to explain how the Internet has eroded journalists' traditional power to define what issues are legitimate for proper debate. Hallin wrote that journalists tend to place public issues into three categories: a sphere of consensus, a sphere of legitimate controversy and a sphere of deviance. In a post on his blog, Press Think, Rosen argued that the press has done a lousy, unthinking job of deciding what goes into each category, and that through the Internet American citizens might assume this role for themselves….

LA Times editor

Journalists, accountants and bankruptcy experts found accord Thursday on the No. 1 issue facing Tribune Company as it begins its Chapter 11 bankruptcy adventure: It isn't owner Sam Zell. It isn't the company's huge indebtedness. The question, said Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton, is "whether this is a viable business." In one way, Stanton told a gathering at USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, the answer is already clear. "I think big-city newspapers, the way we have known them, are not long for this world, as they're now configured."…