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Could a newspaper have a fundraiser to retain jobs
Posted - 7/5/2013 1:41:10 PM | show profile | email poster | flag this post
I'm not in charge of newspapers but have been freelance writing for a few years now, and it saddens me that a number of the publications I've written for don't have the money to pay a whole lot to their journalists and freelancers.
The Chicago Sun-Times had to lay off their staff.
There's plenty of evidence out there that people appreciate and are willing to financially support an organization or person if they appreciate the value of their work. We see this with tipping at restaurants. We see this with kickstarter or fundraisers for non-profits.
Why can't newspapers take advantage of this pool?
I've recently written a couple articles for a website that became popular and drew comments that said "we need more articles like this" and I would have liked to respond "well, maybe you could all pitch in a couple more dollars to the site and this website would be able to afford to pay me a living wage and it would be very easy for me to pour in more dollars like this"
I of course am not going to do that to anyone who I write for because it would burn bridges, but why are newspapers so reluctant to monetize.
I write for another site that pays its contributors with ad money. They even have an app. What's the harm in charging for the app?
I think the Chicago SunTimes should hold a fundraiser for their laid-off journalists.
I also am aware that newspapers don't want to convert themselves into non-profits because they'll lose their integrity, but couldn't you donate to something that's not a non-profit? I just think the fact that the revenue stream is zero outside ads for some publications is troublesome.
What are some of your opinions?
Posted - 7/6/2013 1:11:40 PM | show profile | flag this post
I like the sentiment, but the newspaper business is more complicated that dividing tips among servers.
First, lets figure out how much you'd need to raise to cover the 20 laid-off full-time photographers at The Sun-Times. The Newspaper Guild doesn't have anything in its database about the photo pay scale there, but based on what's paid at other big-city papers of comparable size, we can place it around $1,200 a week. Multiply by 52 weeks, and that's $62,400 a year per photographer. The wages per hour divide out to $30 an hour. Add in benefits, SS, Medicare, workers comp, state unemployment insurance, etc., and the real cost per hour comes to about $48. Multiply by a 40-hour workweek, and the real cost per week for a full-time photographer would be $1,920. Multiply by 20 photographers, and you will need to raise $38,400 to keep them for a week. Multiply by 52 weeks, and you will need to raise $1,996,800 to keep all the photographers for one year. You would also need to fund people and systems to manage the money.
Kickstarter says its most popular pledge amount is $25. If 79,872 people (roughly the population of Champaign) pledge $25 each, you will reach your goal for the first year just for the photographers, but you'll need more to pay for administering the funds.
Is it doable? Is it sustainable?
FWIW, nonprofits do not lack integrity. The reason why newspapers don't want to convert themselves into non-profits because they are backed by shareholders who expect to be paid.
Also, newspapers make money not only by ads, but also in many other ways. That's what diversification into multiple income streams is.
Posted - 7/6/2013 2:03:32 PM | show profile | flag this post
But could tipping work to any degree at all?
Or does it just violate their code?
Perhaps, they can just use it to try to get a couple of their photographers back.
Posted - 7/6/2013 9:39:01 PM | show profile | flag this post
Think about how tipping might affect news coverage.
Do you show readers what they need to know or only what they want to know so they'll give you higher tips? Do you try to depict the sources in a favorable light in order to shake money out of them, or do you show them as they are? Do you begin using Photoshop on news photos to create pleasing fakery? Which do you chose as your income category on your IRS 1040, bribery or prostitution?
Since you're into tips and servers, do servers anywhere in the world make $384 a day in tips by serving one or two tables?
What's in your beer anyway? Can I have some?
Posted - 7/9/2013 5:36:12 PM | show profile | flag this post
Well, papers like the Sun-Times and the Washington Post and others are most often owned by millionaires (billionaires, even) who buy them in the hopes of figuring out how to make even more money. So, beyond a fair subscription rate, people like me might take exception to being asked to further subsidize a millionaire's efforts to make even more money. (This might be of interest: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2013/03/27/washington-post-publisher-made-2-4-million-last-year/).
ProPublica is an interesting example of a new journalism model that is trying to adhere to journalism ethics as a nonprofit model, largely with foundation funding. You may agree or disagree that it will succeed and be scalable. And you can donate (tip, if you will) if you like its work.
As for tipping, I was on OpenSalon for year or so, which has a tipping feature, and not one contributor I knew ever received a dime--even the one whose post went viral and received hundreds of thousands of views. And it had some really strong writers with strong followings before big Salon more or less abandoned it.
Overall, not that this is all that relevant, I've been solicited for a number of Kickstarter campaigns and I'm wary of the blurring of the lines between being a donor and being an investor. They are two very different things.
Posted - 7/15/2013 1:19:30 AM | show profile | flag this post
--I'm not in charge of newspapers but have been freelance writing for a few years now, and it saddens me that a number of the publications I've written for don't have the money to pay a whole lot to their journalists and freelancers.--
Oh, please. Even in the years when newspapers had obscene profit margins and made tons of profits they paid their staff and especially their freelancers little.
Newspapers aren't reluctant to monetize. They just can't figure out how to do it effectively. And here's the dirty little secret: When the big national newspapers figure out how to monetize, it will be by trading their brand for custom material where advertisers have input. But this won't be aimed at saving photographer and journalists jobs.
Anyone -- especially a freelancer -- who clings to newspapers is going to become a pauper.
Posted - 7/18/2013 2:26:07 PM | show profile | flag this post
*** Well, papers like the Sun-Times and the Washington Post and others are most often owned by millionaires (billionaires, even) who buy them in the hopes of figuring out how to make even more money. So, beyond a fair subscription rate, people like me might take exception to being asked to further subsidize a millionaire's efforts to make even more money. (This might be of interest: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2013/03/27/washington-post-publisher-made-2-4-million-last-year/). ***
The Washington Post is not owned by its publisher, Katharine Weymouth; it is owned by the Washington Post Co. The Washington Post Co. is owned by shareholders -- it is a publicly traded company.
Posted - 7/18/2013 3:46:17 PM | show profile | flag this post
RE: Washington Post. The Graham family maintains control of the company through a separate class of stock. The biggest shareholder of common stock is Warren Buffet at around 20%. Despite being publicly-traded, the Graham family calls the shots, which in my book is pretty close to ownership, but you're right to call me on that.
By the way, the Post just did an article on the Koch Brothers, who are reportedly interested in purchasing the Tribune Company, which just announced its splitting into two--publishing and broadcasting. It's a big messy thing and interesting to watch, if you like that sort of thing, with a couple of big papers at stake-- the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times.
Posted - 7/18/2013 5:22:12 PM | show profile | flag this post
If you're in this business, it pays to watch "that sort of thing."
I don't really understand how anybody who's involved making a living from publishing of any sort could not pay attention to news about the industry, who owns what, how large businesses in general operate, market trends, who the major players are, etc. There are people who really, truly believe that subscriptions pay for the paper, like it's a block paper supported by bake sales, and who really don't know that publisher and owner are two different things. Crazy, crazy world, despite all the information residing at our fingertips.
Posted - 7/18/2013 5:29:49 PM | show profile | flag this post
And just in case anyone is keeping score, Katharine Weymouth is a member of the Graham family.
And rather than saying Warren Buffet owns 20%, I should have said Berkshire Hathaway, which also has a dual-class stock structure. People with money also like control.
Posted - 7/19/2013 12:27:19 PM | show profile | flag this post
Berkshire Hathaway is a publicly traded corporation.
Nearly every publicly traded company you bump into, sosumi, sells common and preferred stocks. Each type has different
You really need to learn more about stocks, and about business, and about specific businesses you talk about that own news outlets. You're making assumptions about them in your posts that aren't true.
Posted - 7/19/2013 1:34:53 PM | show profile | flag this post
I beg to differ, Grateful Deadline. I do know what I'm talking about. There is a difference between common stock/preferred stock and a dual-class stock structure. A dual-class stock structure issues A and B shares. One class is publicly traded and carries one vote per share. The other class is often NOT publicly traded and are often held by only a small group of people and are known as super-voting shares--usually each share gets 10 or more votes. This allows founders to maintain control of a company while taking part in public equity financing (because this structure must be in place before a company goes public). Google also has a dual class stock structure (most tech companies do) and its super-voting Class B shares cannot be publicly traded. The Graham family class of stock also can not be offered publicly.Google recently announced it is creating a class C share, which carries no voting rights. Preferred stock is all about money--it has certain features concerning dividends and liquidations that make it attractive. Often, preferred stock has no voting rights. The good news is that Berkshire Hathaway's Class A super-voting shares do appear to be available on the public market for $177K + per share. BH's Class B stock, while ever so much more affordable, has a voting right percentage per share so puny compared to class A that class B is more or less considered a nonvoting share. The SEC once tried to outlaw dual-class stock structures, if memory serves me correctly, but couldn't.