Who will pay for Journalism? Is it just about money?

Posted: May 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Who will pay for journalism? I guess the first party coming to our mind is advertisers. Yes, it is true that advertising play a big part in media organization’s revenue. According to Este, Warren & Murphy (2010), statistics show that circulations of almost all big newspapers and media companies in the world like News Corp, Fairfax, The New York Times are in decline. However, their revenue and net profit is in the rise. The reason for this negative relationship between low circulation and high revenue is advertising.

(Source: CEASA)

However, to answer the question who will pay for journalism, I guess the two presenter of our seminar did a good job when categorizing the media companies/organizations into two: publicly funded media and privately funded media.

Publicly funded media refers those media orgainizations that is funded by the government. Singapore Press Holdings is one of them. SHP’s revenue is mainly subsidized by the government. Other than that, SHP also have their investments in MediaCorp and other media-related business, even surprisingly in property. (Click here to see what businesses SPH is currently involving in)

Privately funded media is those media organizations that is self-regulated profit companies. They are just like other corporate companies, but their products are newspapers, magazines, books, tv channels, etc. Most of media companies in the US belong to this category. Compared to it in publicly funded media, advertising in these media companies is claimed to have a greater impact on the profit of these companies. However, as it is a company running for profit, it has a freedom to invest to any other businesses and sector that it is capable of. News Corp., for example, has its investments in filmed entertainment, television, cable network programming, direct broadcast satellite television, newspapers, magazines all other the world,  and property, liquidity and other financial assets.

We have a better understanding about how media organizations and companies earn profit in 21st century. But the rising question is that how to sustain the role of journalism? How to make these organizations not be driven by profit?

Lacy & Blanchard (2003) asserted that the pressure of profit-making more or less affect the way media reports news. What is your view about this? Is it true that profit is a factor that is claimed to move journalism away from its mission of social and governemtn watchdog? In my opinion, it is hard to make journalism stay away from profit because only by making profit, it is able to report news and journalists are about to afford their lives. However, since money involves in reporting news, there are many cases where we can see that money has more power than the truth that is supposed to be reported. I guess in this case ethics is the solution for journalists and for all of us who are studying to be a journalist! Every profession has its morals and ethics, and journalism is not an exception! I think concerning about ethics, knowing where and when we need to cross the line, and where and when not to, will help journalists not to be driven by money. What are your thoughts? 🙂  



Este, J, Warren, C & Murphy, F 2010, Life in the Clickstream: the Future of Journalism, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, viewed 30 May 2011, <http://www.thefutureofjournalism.org.au/foj_report_vii.pdf>.

Lacy, S & Blanchard, A 2003, The Impact of Public Ownership, Profits and Competition on Number of Newsroom Employees and Starting Salaries in Mid-Size Daily Newspapers, J&MC Quaterly, vol.80, no.4, pp.949-968.


  1. kim yale says:

    hi, Khanh it is Yale here. your blog is really nice one and help me to understand more and more about last week topic. yeh i would like to agree with your sentence which that we should have a better understanding about how media organisations and companies earn profit in 21st century. and i also hope journalists write their opinion properly not depends on people’s pressure, not to be driven by money. Last thing i want to ask you is, if there is a hidden pressure when you write an article, are you going to consider to hide a truth or ??

    • dhkhanh says:

      I think journalist is a very tough job (at least in Vietnam). If you want to be a true journalist who dares to write about anything that ought to be reported, then you are very much in danger because of the powerful forces which are affected by the report. If you hide the truth just because you’re afraid, then you’re a worst journalist ever. I think if I am in the situation, there’re only 2 solutions. Either I will be keen on what I want to do no matter how tough or dangerous it is because I believe there’s still something called justice in the world or I will quit journalism and look for some safer job to do. 🙂

  2. Andy Wang says:

    Hi Khanh,
    I agree with you that it is hard for media corporations to stay entirely away from profits. In fact, in my opinion, the drive for profits may help media organisations to strive to produce better quality products and thus increasing readership. However, the only concern is if a profit-driven media may set agendas and report on only ‘news that would sell’, and marginalise news stemming from smaller and insignificant countries such as the civil unrest in Africa. Do you think a publicly-funded news organisation would strive in today’s context?

    • dhkhanh says:

      I think every country will choose the best journalism model for it. Either privately-funded or publicly-funded will work best if the country knows how to well analyze its historical, cultural, economic and political contexts. Say, all of us know that pulicly-funded journalism works best for Singapore. But in USA’s case, it’s privately-funded. I guess it’s the result from the interactions of social, cultural, political forces. I think it doesn’t matter which model the country apply as long as the final objective of journalism is to serve the public, facilitate the flow of information in the society. 🙂

  3. Joleen :) says:

    we are all living in a practical world, it is generally impossible, or rather, not advisable for a business (and yes, journalism is a business after all) to be non-profiting or non-profit-oriented. it is a very intense competition out there with the bloom of various news media groups, sites or companies. there is definitely a need for journalist and media personnels to have the ability of generating income for the organisation to ensure their companies’ and their survival. Yet, a profitable journalism business does not require a lost of ethics or lost of true journalism spirit, who said it must be so? Yes, there is a risk of media personnel becoming overly-desperate for attention that they lose their professionalism, but, there is a risk in everything. Are people taking things too negatively? Profit-making through professionalism is possible, although challenging, and should be the main issue of concern for truely committed media personnels.

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