What to do about the rapidly disintegrating newspaper industry? Michael Kinsley answers:
How about nothing? Capitalism is a "perennial gale of creative destruction" (Joseph Schumpeter). Industries come and go. A newspaper industry that was a ward of the state or of high-minded foundations would be sadly compromised.
Would it be "sadly compromised"? Not really.
The newspapers that are supported by foundations right now -- The Guardian or the St. Petersburg Times come to mind -- aren't exactly viewed as compromised, and the BBC exists because a "license fee" (a big euphemistic tax) provides the company with about 4 billion pounds a year. It isn't really seen as compromised either, although you do end up with the occasional odd situation in which the head of the BBC is asked to resign for doing something like insulting the Queen.
But, more generally, I'm not sure why we should think of a for-profit newspaper or news service as fundamentally less compromised than the alternative. I have a vague sense that most people believe the purpose of a news industry is to do something other than turn a profit. The purpose is to provide a public service -- you know, the old yarn about how an informed democracy can't function without information. This is all slightly preachy and perhaps exaggerated, but it might be true.