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The Pitch 3: Nudging toward the next step

March 20, 2009

The latest edition of The Pitch brought some fresh air after I’d been frustrated by #nnbn and a few other recent “how do we fund journalism?” discussions, but it didn’t exactly smash through any walls. That’s OK, as I’ve become convinced that this “conversation” is going to last for a really long time. (As Curt Milton keeps telling me, people are losing their jobs and there are various stages of grief to get through. I’m seeing now that when an entire industry is in its death throes, those stages might be months or years.)

I was excited to see that the discussion centered on business models — especially appropriate given this week’s shut down of the printed P-I. Lots of stuff was thrown out there (see Jason’s post for a full wrap); not surprisingly, but significantly, many of us agreed that journalism is going to need multiple sources of funding to become profitable once again. I say significant because most talk I’ve heard up to this point has centered on “here’s one big idea” and been followed by a million reasons it won’t work. It was nice to see people at least nod and say, “Well, that idea won’t ‘save’ journalism, per se, but it could make a few bucks and if we supplement it with this and this….”

It may sound like a cop out — everyone’s a winner! — but is it really so absurd? I imagine this “multiple model” looking something like how I’d fund a trip to grad school: apply for a bunch of grants, work as many hours as I could at a “regular job,” try and make a few freelance bucks hawking whatever I could (OK, not whatever) and patch it all together. It’s not going to look glamourous, but then again, when has journalism actually been glamourous?

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