This Washington Post article makes a plea for journalism, asking Americans to think of news reporting as a public good, like education or scientific research. Here is a snapshot of what they envision this new era of journalism looking like:
Journalists leaving newspapers have started online local news sites in many cities and towns. Others have started nonprofit local investigative reporting projects and community news services at nearby universities, as well as national and statewide nonprofit investigative reporting organizations. Still others are working with local residents to produce neighborhood news blogs. Newspapers themselves are collaborating with other news media, including some of the startups and bloggers, to supplement their smaller reporting staffs.
The ranks of news gatherers now include not only newsroom staffers but also freelancers, university faculty and students, bloggers and citizens armed with smart phones. Financial support for news reporting now comes not only from advertisers and subscribers but also from foundations, philanthropists, universities and citizen donors.
This emerging journalistic ecosystem, in which the gathering and distribution of news is becoming much more widely dispersed, holds great potential. But it is still quite fragile. Accountability journalism in particular requires significant reporting resources with strong professional leadership and reliable financial support, which the marketplace can no longer be expected to sufficiently supply.
If you want a local example of this new nonprofit journalism, look no farther than the Hummel Report.