The hedge funds don’t have to win every time

“There’s nothing wrong with for-profit as long as your company isn’t interested only in profit.”

Sadly, we’ll see more media consolidation in 2022, with more newspapers falling into hedge-fund hands. But I’m also sure we will see more digital startups popping up to offer alternatives in town after town. My view is that it’s not smart to bet against the hedge funds, but they don’t have to win every time.

We all have choices — as journalists, readers, consumers, advertisers, and philanthropists. I’m putting my money down on locally owned, civic-minded, reader-focused journalism.

I expect that in 2022 I will continue to hear from journalists who are eager to learn more about the Colorado Sun and want to create their own news sites around the country. There’s a lot of passion, energy, and guts out there, and that’s just what we need. It won’t be easy, figuring out new business models and finding ways to connect with readers. I’ve learned so much in the past three years about how to launch and run a new business, and it’s been thrilling to see The Colorado Sun grow from 10 full-time staffers in 2018 to 22 today (and soon to be 23).

Inevitably, many of these conversations with aspiring media entrepreneurs will quickly turn toward tax status. The opposite of hedge-fund journalism is nonprofit journalism, right? My short take: With apologies to John Thornton and others, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. What makes perfect sense in one place might not work so well elsewhere. Your tax status doesn’t matter if your business goes belly up. Know your market, and your readers. Be nonprofit where it makes sense. There’s nothing wrong with for-profit as long as your company isn’t interested only in profit. Have you considered an alternative, such as becoming a public benefit corporation or B Corp? If your No. 1 goal is to serve your readers and your community with quality journalism, then I think you’re on the right path. Focus on that first.

There are some dark days ahead across the media landscape in 2022, but I remain hopeful. Journalism is too important to be left in the hands of hedge funds. Best wishes to everyone out there who wants to find a better way.

Larry Ryckman is editor and co-founder of The Colorado Sun.

Sadly, we’ll see more media consolidation in 2022, with more newspapers falling into hedge-fund hands. But I’m also sure we will see more digital startups popping up to offer alternatives in town after town. My view is that it’s not smart to bet against the hedge funds, but they don’t have to win every time.

We all have choices — as journalists, readers, consumers, advertisers, and philanthropists. I’m putting my money down on locally owned, civic-minded, reader-focused journalism.

I expect that in 2022 I will continue to hear from journalists who are eager to learn more about the Colorado Sun and want to create their own news sites around the country. There’s a lot of passion, energy, and guts out there, and that’s just what we need. It won’t be easy, figuring out new business models and finding ways to connect with readers. I’ve learned so much in the past three years about how to launch and run a new business, and it’s been thrilling to see The Colorado Sun grow from 10 full-time staffers in 2018 to 22 today (and soon to be 23).

Inevitably, many of these conversations with aspiring media entrepreneurs will quickly turn toward tax status. The opposite of hedge-fund journalism is nonprofit journalism, right? My short take: With apologies to John Thornton and others, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. What makes perfect sense in one place might not work so well elsewhere. Your tax status doesn’t matter if your business goes belly up. Know your market, and your readers. Be nonprofit where it makes sense. There’s nothing wrong with for-profit as long as your company isn’t interested only in profit. Have you considered an alternative, such as becoming a public benefit corporation or B Corp? If your No. 1 goal is to serve your readers and your community with quality journalism, then I think you’re on the right path. Focus on that first.

There are some dark days ahead across the media landscape in 2022, but I remain hopeful. Journalism is too important to be left in the hands of hedge funds. Best wishes to everyone out there who wants to find a better way.

Larry Ryckman is editor and co-founder of The Colorado Sun.

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