0

And When the Last Scholar Has Died...

The cultural industry is on life support. Without money from Big Business, journalism, the arts, and academia are not sustainable. We are witnessing the triumph of economic logic over the world of insight and contemplation.

We’re great. No, we’re fantastic! Journalism has an important social and political purpose, our magazines and newspapers are necessary household accessories. Yes, we are truly great.

We are smart, too. Our universities are among the world’s best. For centuries, German was a prerequisite for scholarly inquiry. One had to speak the language to be able to penetrate the depths of philosophy, theology, or literature. Yes, we are truly smart.

Wrong! We used to be great, maybe. But any private or public body that is connected to the humanities now finds itself on the brink of collapse. Newspapers, magazines, universities, theaters, and even cities and communities require big corporate money to evade bankruptcy: Ad money, sponsorship deals, partnerships with global enterprises. That’s not intrinsically bad, but the (fortunate) fact that we can still finance the fruits of our labor through ad sales must not blind us to dire future prospects: We are not able to raise enough money from readers (or theater patrons) to satisfy one of the fundamental rules of sustainable business models: The ability to grow from within. Journalists or artists or scientists rarely generate enough revenue from the sale of their products to finance the growth of their operations. We lack a proper foundation for our business model.