This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Make Journalism Your Charity: Opinion

The following commentary is from an investment professional with Clear Harbor Asset Management who is a participant in TheStreet's expert contributor program.

"If the broad light of day could be let in upon men's actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects."
-- Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Tired of watching your investment portfolio get ravaged by systemic banking crises? Worried about the national debt, the rise of poverty, the decline of education or the degradation of the environment? Do you think our health care system is screwed up or that our democratic institutions have been corrupted?

The holidays are a time of giving, and the U.S. tax code allows taxpayers to deduct charitable contributions, providing an incentive for people to make annual donations to causes they deem worthy.

For anyone struggling to decide on a recipient for his or her philanthropic largesse as 2011 nears its close and humanity struggles with a multitude of seemingly intractable problems, I have a modest proposal: Donate to nonprofit journalism.

Yes, I know the media may be the one institution out there that garners less respect than the U.S. Congress, but hear me out on this.

The rising trend of nonprofit, independent, online journalism outlets that are springing up around the country should not be confused with the mass media that is dominated by conglomerates such as News Corp. (NWS), Comcast (CMCSA), Walt Disney (DIS), Time Warner (TWX), Viacom (VIA) and CBS (CBS).

In the media industry, high-quality journalism -- particularly at the local level -- has become a rare commodity. The rise of the Internet, social media and search engines such as Google (GOOG) and Yahoo! (YHOO) has damaged the ability of professional news purveyors to profit off their content.

Investment news has fared well because investors are willing to pay for information that helps them profit. But elsewhere -- with rare exceptions -- the industry is losing its appetite for making the investment required to sustain newsgathering operations that can produce the sort of in-depth, investigative journalism that citizens in a democracy need to root out corruption, hold people in power accountable and have an informed and productive political debate.

A recent report on this by the Federal Communications Commission observed the mass layoffs in the news industry and the increasing influence of advertisers in news content and concluded that U.S. communities "face a shortage of local, professional accountability reporting." It went on to say the "independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalism -- going so far as to call it crucial to a healthy democracy -- is in some cases at risk at the local level."

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,042.90 -28.32 -0.17%
S&P 500 1,972.29 -5.51 -0.28%
NASDAQ 4,493.39 -12.4620 -0.28%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs