Publications

Is There a Better Structure for News Providers? The Potential in Charitable and Trust Ownership

A hard copy of this publication can be purchased from the University of Oxford Online Store

 

The Executive Summary can be downloaded free of charge here

 Economic turmoil in the news industry and opportunities to use digital media to improve coverage of specific national and global topics, engage in specialised reporting techniques and improve local and hyper-local coverage have led many observers to suggest alternative ownership structures for established and start-up news organisations. 

Charitable ownership structures and trust arrangements are frequently advocated. Although interest in such organisations has grown, there has been little evidence and knowledge about their organisation, governance arrangements, operational issues and effectiveness, or their positions in law and public policy. Some discussions have been flawed by unbridled idealism and optimism, others by wishful thinking, and some by blissful ignorance and misconceptions. Nevertheless, the suggestion that alternative ownership and operational form may be useful for addressing contemporary challenges is far too important to disregard.

This book adds information, evidence, and knowledge to the dialogues taking place. It explores the rationales and context of the push for charitable and trust structures, how structures affect control and operations of news organisations, and why they are important in the UK and elsewhere. It provides explanations of some of the most notable existing arrangements in the UK, France, Canada and the United States and how alternatively structured start-up news organisations are being created in the digital age. It draws upon the knowledge of leaders of those organisations, as well as researchers, to illuminate important challenges and issues facing these organisations, their advantages and disadvantages,  the extent to which they serve the purposes and arguments made for charitable and trust ownership, legal and policy limitations on their operations and the prospects for their use in the current environment.

New ways of funding professional journalism in the digital age need to be explored in order to preserve its public role and function for democracy.  This book gives a comprehensive overview and insight into financing journalism by foundations and other charitable institutions. It is a valuable source for media regulators, foundations and institutions and individuals engaged in journalism.

Prof. Heinz-Werner Nienstedt,  Former CEO Handelblatt & Department of Communication, Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität

The current crisis in the news media requires much more than mere tinkering with financial flows. This timely book makes an important and well-grounded analysis of the potential role of non-profit organisations in enabling a new professional journalism capable of engaging with the crucial political, economic and cultural issues of the 21st century.

Prof. Paschal Preston
Director, STeM research Centre, Dublin City University