It’s a good thing when the journalists write press releases. Today’s launch of the Chicago News Cooperative is something that we can share with you pretty much by cutting and pasting the press release. Unlike the jargon-filled missives from many companies, this is easy to read.
A few points first: The CNC is a new nonprofit reporting organization supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and comprises former Chicago Tribune journalists and other editorial staff. This is the latest foundation-sponsored news operation, a way that growing numbers of experts say could point the way to the future for financing U.S. journalism. After all, advertising isn’t working out as well as it used to, and people keep dropping their print subscriptions to read it for free online.
A report out this week from former Washington Post editor Len Downie Jr and Columbia professor Michael Schudson approaches this topic and even suggests a U.S.-style BBC to make sure that journalism doesn’t disappear just because Wall Street investors and advertisers don’t like the declining profits and circulation they’re seeing at your hometown paper.
Speaking of profits, the Times sees a profit opportunity here. It will use news from the CNC to feed its own local edition pages in Chicago, similar to what it’s doing in San Francisco. In the process, it will go up against two Chicago stalwarts, the Tribune and the Sun-Times.
One question we have: Why won’t the group disclose how much money it’s getting? Guessing it has to be disclosed somewhere sometime, either through its own tax papers or through the other donors’ filings.