Al's right about giving back

Al's right about giving back

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Al writes today in the SF Chronicle:

You shouldn't take the money and run. If successful community Web sites, such as Craigslist and Yahoo and even Google, are going to take over regional advertising dollars, they also need to give something back to society other than cheap apartment ads and funny, dirty personals. (Not that I don't love 'em.)

Historically, the money spent on such ads helped subsidize a reporting mechanism that served as society's fourth estate. It was commonly known as a newspaper.

If the revenue newspapers once subsisted on disappears, he who taketh the lunch money away shall also provide the watchdog function. And complaining about lousy school systems on your blog won't cut it. Nor will running the AP wire on your "news" page.

I'm trying to figure out how to help, maybe just a little, by encouraging people to preserve and expand what's right about mainstream media while encouraging the new stuff. There's a lot of good people and infrastructure in newsrooms and bureaus, like fact checkers and editors.

How do we keep all that , and maybe increase funding for investigative journalism?

I don't know, want to help, but don't want to be a loose cannon.

(This is a major theme at a bunch of speaking I've done lately.)

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