The newspaper industry is a dying one; what once were major papers all over the country are floundering, just hoping for generous individuals to come along and bail out their financial woes. With free content available online, real-time updates, and the much more user-friendly format (who hasn’t struggled with the bulk of a newspaper?), it is no wonder that the form of media is a petering out.
But the San Francisco Chronicle had received a miracle of sorts in the form of billionaire philanthropist Warren Hellman. The Hearst-owned paper is hemorrhaging cash (it lost more than $50 million in 2008) and laying off employees left and right. In March, Valleywag reported that Hellman was to be one of the saviors of the paper, as he and other prominent local business leaders were trying to turn the paper into a non-profit. It’s a novel idea, and considering the media’s role as government watchdog, not a harebrained idea.
But now it seems that Hellman has some other plans, namely launching a San Francisco-based Internet site that will compete with the likes of the Huffington Post. Valleywag reports:
“Like [Adrianna] Huffington’s Huffington Post, the venture’s staff will include a hefty dose of amateur reporters, including students from the University of California, Berkeley’s graduate journalism school and possibly, according to some of the initial discussions we heard about, local volunteers. Unlike HuffPo, however, it would be a nonprofit, and will work with the local public radio station KQED.”
Hellman apparently lost faith in print media’s ability to stay a relevant source for breaking news. In an interview with the New York Times, he said, “I think that demise [of the American newspaper] might be inevitable, anyway. This might put journalism, broadly defined, on a much more stable foundation.”