January was the month for interventions

January seemed the month for considering the waning health of newspapers (specifically, of The New York Times), and for interventions.  It made me think of a family gathering where everyone knows what's best for the one relative who can't get his life together.

The Atlantic ran a much-cited article by Michael Hirschorn in their January issue, titled "End Times."  It predicted that the end of the print New York Times may be coming sooner than people think.  It concluded:  "Ultimately, the death of The New York Times--or at least its print edition--would be a sentimental moment, and a severe blow to American journalism.  But a disaster?  In the long run, maybe not."

On January 12, The New York Times respondedOn January 13, Henry Blodgett blogged about it, along with how The New York Times could save itself with some drastic cost-cutting and price increases that had others up in arms and blogging.

Also in the death rattle mode, The New Yorker ran a piece by Jill Lepore on January 26 that started:  The newspaper is dead.  Which seemed to promise something in the vein of the Atlantic article, but instead veered into a lengthy history of newspapers. 

Online-only content by Steve Coll, though, ran on January 28 discussing how newspapers could survive.  The answer?  Go non-profit with an endowment:  "I have been mulling over this idea that only by turning the Post into a nonprofit trust and raising a university-sized endowment to support the newsroom could the paper retain the vitality it requires to serve as a successful watchdog over our constitutional system."  On January 30 he ran a follow-up article further working out his ideas.

His post also considered a New York Times op-ed that ran on January 27, written by David Swenson and Michael Schmidt.  They had the same conclusion.  Endowment to protect the First Amendment.

Also at the end of January, the blog ReJurno ran a measured piece predicting that the death of large metros might be coming, but they would be replaced by mini-metros with small, flexible, interlocking staff. 

Still, what would replace the international and investigative reporting on the scale of The New York TimesThe New Yorker's Steve Coll, with his endowed theory, said that he believed the major funders have to move first, than America will follow:

"Warren?  Bill?  You can secure the First Amendment for a generation at a time of historical transformation in national life, and in the country's place in the world.  If you'll just put up the first billion, the rest of us promise to get busy helping to raise the rest."