Congratulations to the Tribune for winning the Pulitzer for local reporting. Condi Nast has an interesting perspective on the story.
Think doing Pulitzer Prize-quality work will guarantee you continued employment at a newspaper? Here's proof it won't.
Among the recipients of this year's Pulitzer for local reporting is Paul Giblin, who, together with Ryan Gabrielson, wrote a five-part series in the East Valley Tribune on Sheriff Joe Arpaio's efforts to fight illegal immigration at the expense of other areas of law enforcement.
It's ironic that a paper on life support manages to win the most coveted prize in journalism--written by a reporter who has been laid off.
It's also interesting to get some feedback on "The Guardian's" business model. I've certainly never figured out how to make money off the web. The Guardian seems like the the most promising model. It only has four or five employees and no production costs. The reporters are professionals and they aren't hobbyists. They are there to make money. I've speculated in the past that the model isn't sustainable. Here's a hint from the Guardian staff
"It shows you can still do significant work, even in the face of declining resources, if you put your mind to it," said Epler when I reached her at the Guardian. Being a victim of upheaval in the newspaper industry doesn't take away from her joy at winning, she added. "It's almost like I'm glad we're not at the Tribune anymore because we're doing our own thing and it's pretty cool. And even though we're not making any money, journalistically and professionally it's really great and satisfying."
Hmm, Professional satisfaction is wonderful, but it doesn't pay the bills.
The Guardian is probably the best example of the local, professional, web only model. I'm serious. The site is well run and professional. If the Guardian website can't generate enough revenue to support four or five professionals then there's no chance of the larger papers surviving as web only models.
I've wondered what would happen if the Tribune or Republic went web only. Could they generate enough revenue to cover the cost of the reporting? It looks like that answer is no. The Republic or Tribune will never be as efficient as the Guardian, and it looks like the Guardian isn't as profitable as the founders were hoping.
I have yet to see a website that can provide general news content and manage to break even.