Music and movie mogul David Geffen has made it clear that he would like to acquire The New York Times, and perhaps turn it into a nonprofit entity, a la the St. Petersburg Times, Newsweek reports.
Geffen declined to publicly comment on media reports that he recently tried to acquire a large stake in the financially distressed New York Times Co., parent of the storied newspaper. But two people familiar with Geffen’s thinking say the answer is simple: an acquisition of the Times wouldn’t be a financial investment. If Geffen were successful in landing The New York Times, said one of the confidantes, he’d convert it into a nonprofit institution. He would regard the newspaper, perhaps the world’s most influential journalistic enterprise, as a national treasure meriting preservation into perpetuity. His model would be the ownership structure of Florida’s St. Petersburg Times, which is controlled by a nonprofit educational institution, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. "David would hope the newspaper makes a profit," said the confidante. "But he believes that operating without the ultimate responsibility of paying dividends or necessarily having to be profitable is the best way to run an institution like The New York Times."
The Geffen sources Newsweek spoke to are knowledgeable about his investment decisions and specifically about his overture to acquire a Times stake, but they declined to be identified. "The New York Times is a very special institution," one of the sources said. "It’s essential to be preserved. And David believes the correct model to preserve it is nonprofit."
Mr. Geffen, if you are reading this, I know a nonprofit publication that is a much much cheaper investment — e-mail me!