Rick Edmonds, the estimable media economics expert at the Poynter Institute, calculated that American newspapers are spending $4.4 billion today on news-gathering…
If you wanted to sustain the current level of newspaper coverage by replacing for-profit funding with non-profit dollars, the typical approach would be to raise an endowment that would be invested conservatively to produce an annual return of 5%. The investment income would be distributed each year to provide the operating budgets for non-profit news organizations.
The endowment necessary to provide $4.4 billion in annual newsroom funding would be $88 billion.
In a $14 trillion economy, $4.4 billion isn’t much to spend on a little basic oversight. I continue to hold out hope that the better newspapers (specifically, the New York Times) will be able to survive on a non-profit private model, along the lines of America’s private universities.