Gibbs declined to comment on the poll.
We also asked participants to rank the importance of six different forms of media. On a one-to-five scale, they give print newspapers the highest score of 4.5, followed by websites and blogs, magazines, radio, television, and, at a paltry 1.6, social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
Responses ranged from the unapologetic—“I NEVER read blogs”—to the wistful—“I probably should give the web a 5, but I just can't bring myself to do it,” and, “I guess I am old-fashioned and still lean a lot on newspapers and NPR.” Magazines tallied a respectable 3.5—“The Economist is a must read, but everything else is issue-dependent,” according to one insider—while social media was deemed mostly useful for linking to traditional news stories.
Answers here echo results from our April Media Insiders poll, when the group was asked whether the internet was harming or helping journalism. Nearly two-thirds of respondents in that survey said the effect was negative.
Attached as they are to newsprint, respondents were then asked whether they thought struggling papers should become non-profits in order to receive tax breaks. While 42 percent of the insiders say yes, venturing that it’s “worth a shot,” especially if the alternative is “going out of business,” 52 percent do not think the non-profit route is a good idea. “Struggling newspapers are already non-profits,” quipped one. “I think it's a terrible idea to make that status official.
Papers such as the Christian Science Monitor and the St. Petersburg Times have long operated on non-profit models, but the idea has been getting increased attention as a potential safety net for floundering print publications. Steve Coll, one of the insiders surveyed here, pondered it in The New Yorker in January, and recent non-profit upstarts like ProPublica have been gaining traction. One of our insiders, however, worries about the viability of news as a non-profit endeavor:
Newspapers should experiment with all forms of survival, but I have little faith in the non-profit model’s sustainability. Businesses tend to be better run, and less confused in their mission. Non-profits impose ulterior motives concerning service and altruism that could make news organizations less independent, and more susceptible to ideological pressures.”