For WORLD magazine's first 20 years, it was easy for us as a fledgling operation to envy the resources and financial stability of the mainstream media. That was then. Now we're running out of alarming analogies to describe the journalism crisis. Witness the stark language of the 2009 State of the News Media Report funded by Pew Charitable Trusts: "Imagine someone about to begin physical therapy following a stroke, suddenly contracting a debilitating secondary illness."
It sounds serious because it is serious. But out of this news industry "health" crisis is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for independent Christian worldview journalism to grow and thrive. I want to invite you to get personally involved in this mission by becoming a WORLD Mover.
First, a quick summary of the problem: Industry-wide, ad revenues have plunged by nearly a quarter in just the last two years, driving some once-thriving news businesses (such as the Tribune Co.) into bankruptcy and others to the brink. That noted, the gravely ill patient is journalism itself, not the media corporation. Despite 19 percent lower revenues, Time Inc. last month reported third-quarter profit growth of more than 40 percent over the same period last year. How? Layoffs. Time Inc. dumped 600 jobs a year ago and plans more cuts this year-part of a package of $100 million in savings. What is happening at Time is typical in the stressed-out media business today: News executives preserve profits by running off reporters.
This can't last. Worse, maybe it can. Because without the work journalists produce, readers are left only with commentary and opinion. Set aside for the moment the prevailing bias of mainstream newsrooms. The fact remains that commentary is no substitute for factual news reporting-the knowledge base that should help guide rational decision-making in a self-governing republic.
Major news organizations relied on advertisers-rather than readers, listeners, or viewers-to fund operations. Using lowest-common-denominator content, they attracted mass audiences, sold them to advertisers, and severed the relationship between journalism and the people. The ad revenue model of financing news-gathering has crumbled and may not recover. Up against (1) an ailing economy, (2) a revolution of new technologies, and (3) a widespread public perception that their products lack journalistic integrity, elite news executives find themselves with little audience loyalty. This may help explain a movement among some industry insiders-as well as liberal activists-to push for taxpayer funding of newsrooms. It will likely come in the form of an expansion of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. One proponent, former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., recommends Congress rename CPB the Corporation for Public Media, and fund it more lavishly.
Now, the opportunity: As a nonprofit with a loyal band of subscribers and less reliance on ad dollars, WORLD is well positioned for a reader-funded future. In partnership with WORLD readers like you, we can grow a publishing organization focused primarily on one magazine into a news organization focused on deep journalistic reporting.
In a climate where fewer resources are devoted to factual news-gathering, WORLD could make a more substantial impact on that conversation-by reporting more news. One need look no further than the pair of gutsy 20-year-olds who cracked ACORN with little more than a digital camera and a good thesis. Imagine, a growing team of professional journalists with eyes that see and ears that hear, dispersed around the country and around the world, professionally trained to cover and analyze important events and culture-changing truth.
Now we are asking you to become more involved in supporting our Christian worldview journalism. We are part of a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational publishing ministry. That means contributions to WORLD are tax-deductible. We're looking for WORLD Movers. Your gifts, large or small, will help as we seek to grow our content and strengthen WORLD as a news organization.
We cannot make it without you. The hard-left Nation depends on at least 30,000 who freely give to fund reporting aimed at undermining the free-market economy and glorifying government. If The Nation can use freedom to advocate its destruction, certainly a like number of WORLD readers will support journalism aimed at glorifying God. I believe we can find at least 10,000 to give $10 or more a month regularly to help us expand. Please prayerfully consider partnering with us, with a regular or one-time gift. To make a donation, please click here, and my email address is below if you want to talk further.
If you have a question or comment for Nick Eicher, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.