The short answer to this question in a credit crunch is that you can’t. The slightly longer and contrary answer is that the recession will actually help it survive. The long-term answer can be boiled down to one word, ‘relevance’.

So my answer to Paul Bradshaw’s question, “How to support journalism online financially?” posed for this month’s Carnival of Journalism involves market forces as much as new technology or social entrepreneurship.

As Frederick Filou has pointed out, 2009 could be a good year for the news media. Why? Well, because:

  1. It will force news organizations to stop procrastinating and implement life-saving  decisions.
  2. It will accelerate radical change.  What was supposed to take several years will happen in one.
  3. For the surviving players, 2009 might yield a bigger piece of the pie.

Frederick has some chilling stats and a rather nasty looking graph which suggests that the going is getting tough. Online journalism will feel the freeze.

The big ugly truth is that there will be fewer dollars or pounds or anything else for any kind of journalism. Or at least any kind of journalism that refuses to be Networked. This is going to lead to what the Guardian’s Emily Bell described at a Polis lecture as ‘carnage’.

Which brings us to Relevance. I spent today talking to BBC journalists at an internal panel debate with top execs from Myspace and Google. Those organisations never question that their business model is based on providing platforms for people to connect and create. Journalism must do the same.

I have ideas about how you monetise that relevance (but you’ll have to pay me to hear them!) but the principle is free.