But before we get out the party hats and noise-makers to celebrate the rise of nonprofit journalism, here's the bad news. In the current arrangement, we're substituting one flawed business model for another. For-profit newspapers lose money accidentally. Nonprofit news operations lose money deliberately. No matter how good the nonprofit operation is, it always ends up sustaining itself with handouts, and handouts come with conditions.
There is so much fail in that paragraph I can't begin to ... I mean ... Let's deal with the major fail first:
A spokeswoman for Sun-Times said that as of September, the cost of defence fees for former executives had reached $117.9m.
Sun-Times has unsuccessfully gone to court to escape the indemnities. Costs continue to mount as Black recently petitioned the supreme court in the hope of overturning his six-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Black's lawyer, Carolyn Gurland, said legal indemnities were common provisions at companies wishing to attract talented executives. "Every penny paid under that indemnity was proper under Sun-Times' corporate documents," she said. "The indemnity was upheld by a judge in Delaware."
Gurland added that the company had spent more than $125m on expert advice and investigation into the conduct of Black and his colleagues, who were eventually convicted of siphoning off $6.1m.
That's some "accident."
Mismanagement is not an accident. Fraud is not an accident. Piss-poor planning is not an accident. Deliberate obtuseness to the true costs and true benefits of running a newspaper is not an accident. Failure to recognize the coming decline in print advertising despite dire warnings from everyone on the planet for an entire decade is not an accident. This didn't just happen. People broke this industry on purpose. I don't know how often I have to stand on the street corner like a crazy person with a sign and hold up pictures of the newspaper industry with a knife in its back in order to prove this was a homicide, not a suicide because the message doesn't seem to be getting through.
And this is just fucking special:
No matter how good the nonprofit operation is, it always ends up sustaining itself with handouts, and handouts come with conditions.
Yes. Advertisers never want things. Readers never want things. They're all perfectly content to let the newspaper take their money and then kick back and read whatever without a whisper of protest. That's exactly how it works. I can't tell if Shafer is childishly naive or criminally lazy or just really fucking stupid here. Maybe all three.
Here's another bit of dumbassery:
Nonprofit news operations lose money deliberately.
He does not cite a single balance sheet of a single nonprofit news organization to show that they are losing money. "Not rapaciously making 25 percent profits at the expense of actual operations" does not equal "losing money." Jesus tits. It's just a totally fact-free assertion with not even the most cursory research to back it up.
From later in the piece, and this actually made me laugh out loud:
Commercial outlets may reflect their owners' views, but this tendency is always tempered by the need to attract readers and viewers.
Hence the hemorrhaging of readers elsewhere when commercial outlets continue publishing choads like David Brooks and Ross Douthat without regard for their readers' preferences.
Even later, we have Shafer conflating all non-profits with like MoveOn or something:
To borrow a tidy phrase from the business world, donors to nonprofits seek not payouts from their investment but psychic income. They want to feel that their money has done good, or at least caused "evil" some pain. They want to help publish stories that will make Congress to sit up and take notice and pass legislation. The want the major media to chase their stories. They want to publish stories that will convince voters to vote the way they'd have them vote.
I will have to tell the ferret shelter organization I volunteer for, a federally certified nonprofit, that we need to begin our voter registration drive pretty soon.
I've read a lot of bullshit about the newspaper industry but this hatchet job is probably the worst thing I've read in a long time.