I started to write a post inspired by John Paton's terrific "Old Dogs, New Tricks and Crappy Newspaper Executives" speech last week (money quote: “Crappy newspaper executives are a bigger threat to journalism’s future than any changes wrought by the Internet.”), but realized that John railed against the newspaper industry's self-inflicted wounds far better than I could. Go read it.
You should also check out John Robinson's post asking newspaper execs to ask themselves, truthfully, "Has your newspaper improved in the past 10 years?" Sadly, we all know the answer to that one. And Paton's speech provides some prescriptions for change—if it's not too late.
One questionable prescription: The non-profit route as a magic bullet (er. the intentionally non-profit route). Jeff Jarvis, looking at the implosions of the Bay Citizen and Chicago News Cooperative, pretty much demolishes that wishful thinking. As I say to my media entrepreneurship students, non-profit is a tax status, not a business model. Many journalists have somehow managed to convince themselves otherwise. As Jeff says, painfully accurately, "The problem is that journalists don’t know shit about business. Culturally, they don’t want to." That has to change, pronto, or newspapers continue to get saddled with the kind of crappy executives and non-visionary thinking that John Paton is talking about