Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: In Memphis’ unexpected news war, The Daily Memphian’s model demands attention
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Aug. 31, 2009, 11:22 a.m.

The promise of a newspaper’s investigative spinoff

The latest edition of American Journalism Review has an in-depth piece on the thinking behind the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s willingness to spin off (though that’s not the official phraseology) its investigative team as an independent nonprofit, the Watchdog Institute.

Rather than wait for the ax to fall on her four-person team, investigative editor Lorie Hearn did the deed on her own terms — terms that allow her team to publishing their work in the U-T, but also getting the team off the publisher’s books. As part of the new relationship, the Union-Tribune will pay the new nonprofit a substantial amount of money. In return, the U-T gets first dibs on a specified number of investigative stories. But Hearn also has freedom to shop stories around to other media — and to develop her own philanthropic base. She already has one donor.

(Hearn made the deal with a representative of Platinum Equity, the Beverly Hills buyout firm that recently bought the U-T and currently is bidding for the Boston Globe.)

Can this kind of partnership help work, for both journalists and publishers on a broader scale? We’ll see. But Hearn clearly sees the arrangement as a win-win. “I’m not abandoning the Union-Tribune,” Hearn tells AJR. says. “I am actually doing this because I want to help it survive.”

POSTED     Aug. 31, 2009, 11:22 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: In Memphis’ unexpected news war, The Daily Memphian’s model demands attention
It’s generated controversy over its fundraising, its paywall, and its staffing. But it’s also about as close as a major American city has gotten to a digital news site that can go toe-to-toe with the local daily newspaper.
The New Yorker’s new weekly newsletter on climate change will try to break through the daily noise
“Climate is one of those big, overarching topics that feels essential to understand and also very overwhelming. The newsletter form seems like the right way to approach it because it narrows the focus.”
Spotify is gaining a podcast audience quickly. But is it an audience that isn’t as interested in news?
Data from Germany finds that Apple Podcasts users devote about 23 percent of their podcast listening to news shows — versus just 8 percent for Spotify users.