The New York Times has a piece today looking at four distinct ideas for saving local journalism (though not necessarily local newspapers). Of the four, it’s the first – philanthropy – that feels most likely to me:
The local media ecosystem of the future must have a much bigger role for nonprofit media and philanthropy. We accept this reality in the worlds of education and health care. It’s time to embrace it for local journalism. We believe people have an obligation to support libraries and symphonies. Now they have to support good accountability reporting.
Another thought: what if the local newspapers of old, run into the ground by profit-chasing owners, were replaced with essentially outposts of the larger media companies? Much like regional public radio feeds into NPR, and vice versa, regional newspapers could be propped up by the deeper-pocketed newspapers, and provide great localised content in return.
They wouldn’t just get money, of course – it would mean local papers wouldn’t have to concern themselves with billing infrastructure, IT support and so forth.