This morning the Boston Business Journal reported that the Boston Foundation is discussing ways to help finance The Globe if it is shut down by The New York Times. It's a little unclear what the nature of the conversations are, but they seem to reflect the gist of conversations happening in public on the web: "Quick -- the sky is falling! How can we save the Globe?!?"
This is the wrong approach.
We shouldn't be asking how to save The Globe, we should be asking how we'll build its replacement.
The Globe has served us for years, but its financial dysfunction is staggering. It doesn't work any more. Period.
Instead of trying to prop up this dying system, our community needs to come up with new ways to make information public, share it and discuss it.
We're already seeing online substitutes for some pieces of The Globe. Red Sox commentary is ubiquitous, sites like Blue Mass Group have rich political discourse and there is a fair amount of local arts coverage on the web. Of course, it's not clear what will replace The Globe's hard news and investigative journalism. I believe there will be less need for original hard news reporting as primary sources do the reporting themselves, but there will still be a big hole, without a clear way to fill it.
There is one thing we can do: Experiment.
Instead of pouring one huge chunk of money into The Globe, The Boston Foundation should fund community news experiments. They should fund people like Adam Gaffin who are highlighting local blogs, sites like Somerville Voices that are organizing community discussions and local versions of the Sunlight Foundation that are helping make government data public.
The Knight Foundation's News Challenge is a great model for this approach. If the Boston Foundation started giving away grants to creative local news experiments, their inboxes would be stuffed with great ideas.
We're in the midst of a revolution. Blood is being shed. It's nasty out there.
The good news is that once we get through this rough patch, we're going to have an information ecosystem that is far richer, more diverse and more truthful than the one we have now. I'm looking forward to it.