What can be done? Start figuring out how to make journalism work as a philanthropic enterprise. If you’re a journalist at one of the countless struggling papers, get together with other journalists and start feeling out philanthropists. Make the case that local journalism’s traditional mission — poking around in the details of city budgets, monitoring what the school board is getting up to, investigating self-dealing politicians — benefits the community and is worthy of their involvement. Who knows, maybe a few subscribers will turn up when they see the local paper as a philanthropy instead of as vulture bait.
There are no obvious treatments for journalism’s profound malaise, but I think Megan has identified the most plausible direction to take.