• Spencer Norris

Private Ownership of the Media, and Dean Baquet

Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, visited the J-School at Mizzou this week and offered some hot takes on the business of journalism, anonymous sources, narcotization of readers in traumatic reporting, and a smattering of other insights.

Generally speaking, he had some interesting insights, especially with regards to the Times's decision to reveal details of the Ukraine whistleblower that has taken D.C. by storm in recent weeks.

I have one small quibble though.

I suppose there's some institutional bias here since the Times has been owned by the same family for generations, but Baquet seemed amenable to private control of newspapers by powerful business magnates. He specifically mentioned Jeff Bezos's ownership of the Washington Post and suggested that the paper is better off under his leadership.

I personally struggle with the ownership of major news institutions by powerful business interests, as well as the alignment of the news with the advertising industry--but, alas, I don't see that changing any time soon. Most every model for the modern newsroom is reliant on corporate control and advertising money. Even non-profit newsrooms are dependent on the ongoing financial support of wealthy benefactors. Call it a necessary evil, if it's an 'evil' at all. It's just reality.

Whatever the case, I think that a healthy media market includes many different sources of news with an equally-diverse collection of funding models. Squeamish as I am about corporate control of the news, it's part of the ecosystem, for better and worse.

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