Consorting with the enemy
The Carrboro Ctizen was described at last year’s ConvergeSouth by Editor Kirk Ross as the newsprint answer to the slow food movement, which stresses local, sustainable ingredients. “You want to know where your news is coming from,” he told the group. But this little paper made big news last week when it did a very ordinary thing: take out a low-interest, smallbusiness loan from the city for $50,000 for expansion. But in the newspaper business, borrowing money from the folks you’re supposed to be watchdogging is… frowned upon, and certainly not an ordinary occurrence. “It is problematic that a news organization would ask a government agency for a loan,” Kelly McBride, ethics group leader for the Poynter Institute, told the Raleigh News & Observer. “It throws a monkey wrench into the whole watchdog role.” But Publisher Robert Dickson contends that the Citizen is just the kind of business the city’s loan program was designed for, and that it would in no way affect coverage. “Newspapers do business with people they have to report on,” he said. “It’s a fact of life.” — BC
Is it worth it?
Upscale monthly financial magazine Worth is gearing up for yet another appeal to the upper-class elite. According to a New York Times article, Fidelity Investments introduced the magazine in 1992 but the company relinquished ownership after a conflict of interest arose; being that Fidelity sales financial services, it probably shouldn’t publish a magazine that encourages those services. The magazine was then bought by a private equity firm, went bankrupt and then bought by CurtCo Media. The newest owner of the seemingly doomed publication is Sandlow Media. Sandlow’s plan for Worth is to continue covering personal finance, but this time make it pretty; this means matte paper and high-class, stand-alone cover art and photography that will have nothing to do with the content. Worth will publish its spring issue but will then hold off print until the fall, when it will become a bimonthly. The magazine will also feature essays and biographies purchased as advertisements by financial advisers but will list them as paid advertisements. Sandlow plans to provide Worth free to 110,000 upper-class recipients. These people must have a minimum of $2 million in wealth, live near similarly wealthy citizens and subscribe to other financial publications. Those not in that select few can pick up Worth at the local newsstand for the low price of $18.95. It’s good to see that the present state of the economy, not to mention the journalism market, has got us all moving in the right direction. — LC
Magazines nationwide have been feeling the sting of the deteriorating economy and music magazine Paste is no exception. The monthly publication has resorted to asking its readers for donations to keep it alive. According to the Paste website, the publication has been in financial trouble for the past nine months. Editor-in-chief Josh Jackson notes that advertising has dropped off considerably in recent months and even though 2008 was Paste’s best year, the readers’ help will be essential in helping the publication through “this short-term economic crisis.” Readers are responding positively, donating $166,000 so far. For their donations, readers receive access to over 70 mp3s for download, donated by participating artists. Paste will also hold random drawings in which donors can win signed merchandise and even a spot on a cruise. Donors who donate $350 or more receive a lifetime subscription. Even though the response from readers is a surprise to Paste, Jackson says that the publication is not “out of the woods yet” but thinks that it will be able to stay open if donations continue. — LC