About Me

  • I'm CEO of Newspeg.com, a social news-sharing platform. I've spent 20 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies. You can read more about me here.

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« This Is Why You Have To Think Outside The Box | Main | How Sick is The New York Times? »

March 25, 2009



I've done a lot of 2 things in my professional and community life -- asked for ad dollars and asked for donations (for non-profits such as the United Way). The challenge isn't much different.

If all the time that was spent on discussing non-profit models was spent actually talking to local advertisers we'd be much further ahead.

To transition from a for-profit to a non-profit model isn't for the faint of heart. Be prepared to convince all the shareholders on board to donate their assets into the non-profit (talk about shareholder battles and lawsuits waiting to happen!). Then be prepared to fire and re-hire your staff. Finally, you should expect to reconstitute your board as the IRS doesn't look kindly on an org that just looks like it's trying to avoid taxes and is otherwise the same as before. Expect to lose a good solid year while you wrestle with all these issues and strife. That doesn't sound like the promised land some think it is.


Well, my experience is that many non-profits spend more money on their leadership and staff than their expressed purpose. I think it is ridiculous to expect taxpayers to support news organizations that cannot market their own product.I think that forbidding news organizations (or anyone else) from expressing a political opinion violates the first amendment.Instead, try teaching Americans to actually read, comprehend and think critically. A newspaper needs an educated public. But please don't think throwing federal dollars into school districts will accomplish that.

Howard Owens

You have to do more than break even, you have to be able to maintain high margins in boom times, you have to bank profits, in order to ride out lean times, because newspapers are exceptionally cyclical businesses -- something CEOs for many publicly traded companies seem to have forgotten over the past several decades.

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