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Prof to Newspaper Readers: Buy Shares in Pubs You Read

Chris Daly has an intriguing idea for Dow Jones and the New York Times Co.: “Readers to the rescue?

The existing subscriber base of both newspapers is a precious asset, one that is not realizing its full potential. The owners of both papers should take a cue from public broadcasting and launch a “pledge drive” the likes of which no one has ever seen. Instead of just sending money, the subscribers could be enlisted to buy stock.

There’s precedent in another field, far afield if you’ll pardon the expression: pro football. The Green Bay Packers franchise is owned by the fans. In this case, the “ownership” is almost entirely symbolic, and it’s unclear what recourse the fans have if management goes insane.

But community ownership has appeal, even though in the case of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times the community is an international audience. Daly’s notion is at least intriguing.

(Note: I’m a shareholder in both Dow Jones and the New York Times Co., and would rather see them put out the best possible journalism than turn over their futures to the whims of Wall Street, even at the cost of lower share values.)

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