Information is to democracy what oxygen is to fire. Without one the other cannot survive: an un-informed voter cannot use her vote intelligently, nor hold power to account. That is why democracy and the independent news media have developed hand in hand, and why any threat to the survival of organised news in the public interest (however flawed it may be) is also a threat to democracy. Today we face a crisis in the business model of news. It is not a crisis of demand – audiences ebb and flow, and may be deeply sceptical at times – but the thirst for news and information has not disappeared; it comes down to a crisis of funding. Quality news production feeding relevant information to societies on a structural

basis is not cheap. It requires large numbers of highly trained personnel, organised to respond to every change and wrinkle in domestic and world events. This chapter examines the way in which the current changes in the production and organisation of news has shaken to its foundation the business model on which news delivery has long depended. As media companies struggle ‘to adjust to wide-ranging changes that are increasing competition and eroding their audience and advertising bases’ (Picard, 2005: 344), we ask how it is possible to maintain the vital functions of news journalism. No one has paid the full cost of news since the advent of advertising in the

middle of the nineteenth century (Curran, 2002). On commercial television and radio, news has always been cross-subsidised by the lucrative sale of advertising around popular programming. On subscription channels also, it is the popular entertainment programming that attracts the audience. Newspapers, depending on scoops and story telling to keep circulation high, have had some means of recouping at least part of their own costs via sales, but the advertising subsidy has kept the cost of news at a price that is far below what it takes to produce. Today, audiences have many other sources of entertainment, a major one being the internet. As audiences move on to the net, so too do advertisers (K. Allen, 2007; Holton, 2008) but those advertisers are finding new ways to get directly to their audiences which do not require them to pay for space in news media as they have done in the past. Popular and local newspapers and TV have always attracted the lion’s share of advertising and shareholders expect high revenues as a result, so when the level of advertising started to drop, it created anxiety in boardrooms and a large number of closures, particularly in the USA and UK.