The disruption in the media industry is ongoing, and amid much change, a variety of models for supporting journalism has emerged. Which works best, in various societies and culture, is a subject of much debate. Some of the main models are:
Media houses like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and this newspaper are operated as commercial entities, relying on revenues from advertisers and subscribers.
While print remains a major source of revenue, as this declines, many are moving towards greater reliance on digital revenues, especially from readers, through various forms of online paywalls. Some media companies are publicly listed, while others are private entities. In recent years, with the industry in a state of flux, there has been a flurry of newspapers changing ownership, such as in Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, South Africa, the United States and Britain.
Businessmen and philanthropists buying media companies is an age-old practice, with media barons like Mr Rupert Murdoch dominating media houses in the West for years.
These business chiefs do so to gain influence or to support journalism. In recent times, The Washington Post has been bought by Amazon founder-owner Jeff Bezos, while the South China Morning Post was bought by Alibaba’s former chief Jack Ma.
Some media groups have public or private funds or institutes to support their journalistic efforts, such as The Scott Trust set up in 1936 to sustain The Guardian’s independent journalism.
In 2016, American entrepreneur Gerry Lenfest set up the non-profit Lenfest Institute to support sustainable business models for quality local journalism. Other media groups, such as the BBC, receive state funding for public broadcasting efforts, while in countries such as France and Norway, state funding is given to support quality journalism, with grants tied to a media group’s readership and reach.
Published in Dawn, EOS, September 29th, 2019