David Geffen Is A Big Fat Newspaper Communist

David Geffen is, pretty loudly, trying his darndest to acquire the New York Times, which has been (just as loudly) struggling as of late. This, of course, has caused the journalists, sanitation staff, and execs to all freak the hell out about whether or not they’ll still have jobs, coffee, Formula 401, and the like. Turns out he’s got a really interesting idea about what the grey lady should be: a non-profit.

The Geffen sources NEWSWEEK spoke to are knowledgeable about his investment decisions and specifically about his overture to acquire a Times stake, but they declined to be identified. “The New York Times is a very special institution,” said one of the persons. “It’s essential to be preserved. And David believes the correct model to preserve it is nonprofit.”

The Geffen sources told NEWSWEEK that he envisions himself as the next Nelson Poynter, the late proprietor of the St. Petersburg Times and a legend in journalistic circles for his fierce independence. The Florida newspaper (where this reporter began his career) is the widely recognized prototype of the nonprofit structure that is now generating growing interest in some quarters of an industry facing an existential crisis…
One of the nation’s great daily reports, it snared two Pulitzer Prizes last month.

Notice I’m not snarking on this, and I shan’t (in spite of Geffen’s responsibility for popularizing The Eagles, a blight on the cultural landscape for which I have BARELY forgiven him). Why no snark? I actually think this may be a seriously awesome idea.

The newspapers all over the country are hemorrhaging money anyway. The nonprofit structure not only worked at the St. Petersburg Times, the freedom it allots does great things for PBS. Imagine a news industry that owed nothing to advertisers. It sounds like it would be a new kind of independent journalism, and one desperately needed in this Era of the Punditocracy/Blogosphere.

Of course, now we’ll have to withstand the inevitable fund drives, but, hey, that’s what fish markets were made for, right?


2 Responses to “David Geffen Is A Big Fat Newspaper Communist”

  1. May 15, 2009 at 20:53

    Now if we could get Congress to be a non profit institution we would be all set.

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