One model being discussed in the journalism world as an alternative to the faltering for-profit newspaper model for the production of local news is what we call “the NPR model” – not-for-profit, supported by philanthropies. That is how I would describe the Independent, for example.
My aforementioned smart old pal Chuck, one of the founders of the incredibly interesting and innovative (and apparently economically unsuccessful) Crosscut talks about the pluses and minuses of the non-profit model:
Will employees of Microsoft or Boeing want to become subscribing supporters of Crosscut if it publishes content critical of Microsoft or Boeing? Will Seattle’s substantial and interconnected philanthropies, governed by influential people with means, want to support an organization whose mission is to afflict the comfortable? Could an exposé of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a local sacred cow if there ever was one, be published by a news outlet whose funding is dependent on the same network of philanthropists and civic leaders? Hopefully, the answer to all these questions is yes.
But the answer also might be no.
I commend your attention to the whole discussion.