What's the point of non-profit news ventures? Stop the handouts...

What's the point of non-profit media ventures? We need to develop innovative news media business models . . .

There seems to be an ever larger number of non-profit journalism ventures. The latest one is from N. California philanthropist Warren Hellman. He is giving $5m to fund a non-profit news venture with UC Berkeley journalism school and KQED, the San Francisco public radio and TV station.

I don't see the point in non-profit ventures such as this. The entire industry is already non-profit in that it doesn't make money.

I think a better approach would be to fund the search for a new business model for news journalism. If we can develop new business models then everyone benefits because everyone can use the new business models.

But if news journalism has to wait for handouts then it will never be a healthy industry.

Innovation in media

We need innovation in news media and innovation means new types of media formats and also new types of business models. I meet innovative media entrepreneurs all the time.

For example, Shareen Newman publishes a very innovative site called Former Fat Chick. It's a unique media-rich site and she is exploring some new types of business models with corporations and health-care providers.

We need people like Mr Hellman to help fund some of our existing media entrepreneurs such as Ms Newman, to help them get off the ground. A $50k grant to Ms Newman would go a long way and potentially pave the way for others. That would be a much better use of Mr Hellman's money, imho.

Media is innovative

There's a ton of innovation happening in media. I've got lots of ideas for new types of media initiatives. I'd love to have $1m and start ten to 15 unique media ventures as a type of media lab/incubator.

No handouts please

We don't need handouts -- we need to develop a way to effectively capture the value that media provides society. And we know it provides a tremendous amount of value because it continues to attract millions of readers. We just haven't figured out the "value recovery mechanism."

I think the future of media will be a type of "Heinz 57" model in that it will rely on many revenue streams. It will be advertising, lead generation, affiliate marketing, virtual cash, events, and more.

But traditional publishers don't want to have to manage multiple revenues streams and that's why they prefer to argue over types of online advertising (MediaWatch Monday: Missing The Point - Publishers Wrestle With Advertising Formats)

Finding a new business model for news and other media is the most important question about the future of the Internet. It is the Gordian knot of our times. Where is our Alexander?

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Here are some more ideas:

Newspapers: 25 things to try before turning off the lights | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com

We need a Google AdSense on steroids: The Grand Challenge of Internet 2.0

There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers?