It’s no surprise that the parent of the Tampa Bay Times, Poynter Institute for Media Studies, is facing the same financial terrors as print newspapers across the nation. The first blow is obvious, coming from a relentless national recession, while the second hit has to do with Poynter’s unique ownership model of the Tampa Bay Times.
Tampa Tribune’s Richard Mullins reports: “The nonprofit Poynter Institute is recruiting new philanthropy experts, launching a massive fund-raising drive and exploring land sales as financial support from the St. Petersburg-based newspaper is ‘no longer viable.’”
“‘These have been difficult times,’ said Poynter President Karen Dunlap. The institute’s posh campus with the bay view makes ‘a number of people think there’s a huge pot of gold in a closet somewhere in Poynter. That’s not true. I’ve looked.’”
The Times has not been immune to the same threat all print media is facing—the internet. In fact, despite holding strong as the best selling newspaper in Florida, the times has had a steady decline in revenue, based on IRS filings.
“Times revenue in 2009 stood at $274.7 million, which included the sale of its Washington-based Congressional Quarterly publication. Times officials declined to say for how much. Then in 2010, revenue fell to $159 million, a drop of 42 percent. At the same time, assets, including physical property, stood at $122.9 million in 2008, then $113.4 million in 2009 and $83 million in 2010,” based on Tampa Tribune research.
This directly correlates to Poynter’s hardship as the Tampa Bay Times had been a significant part of the organization’s revenue. “Newspapers simply can’t offer the kind of ‘generous dividends’ required for Poynter to remain vital as a national journalism training institute,’ as described in the job posting for a new vice president for Poynter, “and ‘strategic thinking’ over the past few years suggests the newspaper model won’t in the future,” reported Mullins.
Poynter’s solution is that they hire it. So the organization has a new position open: President, The Poynter Foundation/Vice President, Institutional Advancement.
Based on the job description, the position’s expectation will be to double outside grants within two years, launch an endowment drive and lead a new foundation staff. While the new-hire will be responsible for “doubling outside grants,” Poynter admits that historically it has mostly left government grant untouched for ethical reasons.
“Poynter could seek donations from government-affiliated groups, such as national endowments for the arts or humanities,” reported Mullins, “but has ‘steered clear’ of those groups in the past, Dunlap said, partly out of a concern about a potential conflict of interest because journalism plays a role of government watchdog.”
If this new Vice President of Institutional Advancement is expected to double outside grants without applying for government grants, I
wonder if the applicant must also have a superhero cape in her wardrobe?
Link to full TBO.com in-depth article by Richard Mullins HERE: