Thursday, January 29, 2009

Would a co-op newsroom help save the Times?

Leonard Witt's idea for the New York Times to have all the operating capital it needs:
Right now the Times has approximately a circulation of about 1 million. To have it delivered can cost a subscriber as much as $600 a year. What if The New York Times said we want to put the newsroom into a cooperative trust owned by its readers as it eases into the online world.

We own the newsroom, the New York Times owns everything else and the governance for the newsroom would remain much the way it has been in the past.

If everyone who subscribes to the New York Times paid $400 a year, just for it online, but also got shares into the cooperative, that would be $400 million a year. The Times newsroom costs about $200 million a year to operate. The extra $200 would go into an endowment, so in five years there would be a billion dollars, in ten years $2 billion. Enough that the subscription rate would go down for anyone who contributed for ten years. A ten year investment would be $4,000 or $2,000 less that what you pay for the newspaper now.

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