The value of not making money

As I see it, there are now approximately two types of media.

First, there’s the media outlet that has an open, or at least an unhidden, political agenda. Your Fox Newses and MSNBCs and your Huffington Posts and Drudge Reports.

Then, there’s everybody else, just trying to grab a slice of the online-traffic mongering, banner-ad clicking revenue pie.

I’m kidding (mostly), but there is an interesting space in which the average, struggling media machine is trying to fit. A space where the organization can produce quality content while still making money.

That’s why this announcement from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is so interesting.

Going forward, our board will use its unique position to work for readers in pursuing with candidates the issues that are critical to the future of our community. The board will provide readers with clear, concise information about candidates’ positions and records. The AJC will no longer endorse political candidates.

In an era where journalism is “non-profit,” the AJC’s move might literally be a step on company’s path to becoming a non-profit company. Whether the move is a viable one remains to be seen; MPR, along with National Public Radio, are among the few bona fide successes in non-profit media. Newspapers have been operating on a member-based model — instead of tote bags, a paper shows up on your doorstep every morning — and that model hasn’t exactly been thriving lately.

For the sake of discussion, if the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Duluth News Tribune, the St. Cloud Times, or even your hometown rag became a non-profit, would you support it?

See also: Imagining a future without journalists