ASHEVILLE – The collapse of corporate journalism reverberated across western North Carolina yesterday (Aug. 21) with news that six veteran journalists were terminated by the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Gannett Co. Inc.(NYSE: GCI), which owns the Citizen-Times, reported second-quarter earnings of $1.3 billion and in June announced plans to purchase the Belo chain of 20 broadcast TV stations.
For the past decade, the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) has been pioneering a new business model for community-based journalism:
Providing Internet access and webhosting for WNC and using the revenue to support independent news and information via our radio station, MAIN-FM 103.7.
But this business model is incomplete. The bad news is that the corporate stranglehold on our public airwaves continues to limit our ability to fully test this new business model.
The good news is that, after a 10-year battle, the corporate stranglehold over low-power FM radio was broken last January when the FCC removed restrictions on nonprofit community radio stations. In June, MAIN-FM 103.7 INCREASED its power.
For the first time, the voice of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! is being heard throughout the greater Asheville area.
This is not only change you can believe in, it’s change you can HEAR every day over Asheville’s public airwaves!
The next great battle for local journalism is over wireless broadband, and that’s a battle we are CLOSE to winning. As with community radio, we are fighting to break the corporate stranglehold over the public airwaves used for WiFi access.
Journalism business models have always been based on infrastructure. The great newspapers owned paper mills, printing plants, and fleets of trucks for distribution. TV and radio journalism is based on towers, transmitters, satellites and ownership of licenses to use the public airwaves.
The Internet upset the traditional business model. Today, people pay for their news when they pay their cable or telephone bill for Internet access.
MAIN’s pioneering business model has the potential to capture a share of the local Internet dollars that otherwise flow to the cable-telco duopoly.
We are closer than ever to proving this model. But we are not there yet.
We need your help. Please make a generous tax-deductible donation to MAIN. Help us complete this new vision for community-based journalism and put our journalists back to work!
As a small-town newspaper editor once said, “It’s better to light one small candle than to sit and curse the darkness.”
MAIN Staff, Volunteers and Board of Directors