What should we think about a partnership the New York Times has announced with a Chicago non-profit news organization that will supply two pages of news each week for the Times’ new Chicago edition?
On the one hand, the Times, a for-profit enterprise, is using material from a non-profit in order to take business away from two other for-profit enterprises, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. (Earlier, a similar arrangement was announced for a San Francisco edition of the Times.)
I’m a huge fan of non-profit journalism, but this strikes me as raising the specter of unfair competition. The non-profit, after all, enjoys certain tax advantages not available to a for-profit.
On the other hand, no one objects when for-profit newspapers run material from non-profit news organizations such as the Christian Science Monitor. My gut tells me this is different, but I can’t explain why.
We’re all debating whether for-profit newspapers can or should take the non-profit route. At least in a small way, the Times is now doing exactly that through the back door.