The H.F.P.A. took advantage of its new prominence, too, polishing its reputation by hiring the savvy public relations firm Sunshine Sachs a decade ago. It has also increased its philanthropic contributions substantially. On its website it says it has given away $45 million over the past 28 years, with the money going to entertainment-related nonprofit organizations, college scholarships and the restoration of classic films.
The oddball accolades like Ms. Zadora’s in 1982 that used to be commonplace have been kept to a minimum. The last truly bizarre moment came in 2010, when voters nominated “The Tourist” for best comedy or musical. (It was neither. But it brought the movie’s stars, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, to the show.) And the members also started poking fun at themselves. Ricky Gervais, a frequent host of the Globes, said during the 2016 show that the awards were “a bit of metal that some nice old, confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you.”
Yet everyone got a cut. Publicists got paid to steer clients down the preshow red carpet. Award strategists began charging studios for advice about how to manipulate the Globes voters. The Los Angeles Times reported in February that an H.F.P.A. consultant can receive a $45,000 fee for his or her work, a $20,000 bonus if the film earns a best picture nomination and $30,000 if the film wins. Fees flowed to an army of stylists, limo drivers, spray tanners, banquet servers and red carpet-layers, as well as the trade magazines and newspapers that benefited from the additional advertising revenue.
Mainstream news outlets, including The New York Times, began to cover the Globes ceremony with greater intensity, generating enormous online interest and lending an aura of legitimacy to the proceedings, even if the awards still did not rival the Oscars as markers of artistic achievement.
“Fundamentally, all the people who were in a position to be critical enough that it would have an effect were part of the system: the trade press, the major newspapers, the actors and directors,” Mr. Galloway said. “Anybody who could stand up with legitimacy and say, ‘I don’t believe in this, I’m not doing it,’ had an incentive to keep going until finally, the potential damage to their own image made them turn the other way.”
Movie theaters in China are being ordered to screen patriotic films with titles like “The Sacrifice” and “The Red Sun.” Elementary students in some cities are being told to create paintings and calligraphy extolling the “Chinese dream.” Buses and subways are broadcasting nationalistic messages about revolutionary heroes.
China’s Communist Party is gearing up for a patriotic extravaganza to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 1. Officials are going into overdrive to make sure commemorations go off without a hitch — and hammer home the message that the party alone can restore China to what Beijing considers the country’s rightful place as a global power.
While much of the focus will be on the past, the party’s centenary will have significant repercussions for China’s future. The celebrations will give China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, a forum to present himself as a transformative figure on par with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Mr. Xi, 67, is maneuvering to stay in power indefinitely, an effort that appears to have taken on greater urgency as a new American president builds alliances to curb Beijing’s influence.
“We need to educate and guide the whole party to vigorously carry forward the red tradition,” Mr. Xi said during a recent conference call with political leaders about the centenary, according to People’s Daily, an official newspaper.
trumpet China’s strength in a pandemic-ravaged world and justify the party’s increasingly tight grip on daily life in China.
The news media is devoting special coverage to China’s battles against extreme poverty and corruption. Universities are putting on plays about young lovers killed in the 1920s for their Communist activism, and state-run theaters are resurrecting Mao-era operas.
offering a perk for residents eager to show their love for the party ahead of its big birthday: a free wedding ceremony in June for 100 couples (hotel, makeup and dresses included). The party’s more than 91 million members receive priority. Recently married couples can apply.
Yan Dianjian, an official in Nanjing, said in a telephone interview that the ceremony was meant to “send a tribute” to the party on its birthday. He said party slogans had inspired several themes for the event, including a play on one of Mr. Xi’s hallmark phrases, “Always remember your original mission. Love follows.”
strengthen public loyalty and fortify its control of society.
Mr. Xi has long warned that Communist rule could disintegrate if the party does not assert control across society, including the private sector, schools and the news media. Party organs at the national and local levels are hosting study sessions on party history for cadres. Chinese military officials say they are using the centenary to “forge absolute loyalty” to the party and Mr. Xi.
prove democracy works,” has sought to bring an alliance of countries together to counter China’s hardening authoritarianism. Many Chinese officials and scholars believe the United States is trying to thwart China’s rise.
“No person and no force can stop the march of the Chinese people toward better lives,” says an official slogan for the centenary.
The party aims to seize on the anniversary to make the case for the party’s continued leadership in the 21st century, said David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project, a research program affiliated with the University of Hong Kong.
“There is clearly an effort to make a strong emotional appeal for unity around the party in order to propel China’s development and its rise as a global power,” Mr. Bandurski said.
political fortunes of Mr. Xi, one of China’s most influential leaders in recent history. Mr. Xi is moving closer to claiming a third five-year term at a party congress next year. In 2018, the party cleared the way for Mr. Xi to stay in power indefinitely, abolishing term limits that had served as a check on leaders after Mao and Deng.
Minning Town,” a popular series that depicts the party’s poverty alleviation work in Ningxia, a region in northwest China.
The government has instructed thousands of movie theaters across the country to screen propaganda films at least twice a week until the end of the year. Local officials are expected to mobilize party members and others to attend the screenings to “enhance their social impact,” according to a notice issued by China’s National Film Administration.
Local governments, facing pressure from Beijing, are working feverishly to add party-themed activities to the calendar. Businesses are signing up employees for extracurricular lessons on party history and visits to famous revolutionary sites.
“I’m tired to death,” wrote a commenter on Weibo, a popular social media site. “I won’t have any time of my own by the end of April. This centenary of the party’s founding is so troublesome.”
Albee Zhang contributed research.
Mr. Wyss, who has pledged to donate half his money to charity, has given hundreds of millions to environmental and conservation causes. Through his foundations, he has gradually increased his donations to groups that promote abortion rights, minimum wage increases and other progressive causes.
He became a member of the Democracy Alliance, a club of liberal donors, as well as the board of the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank that got its start with support from Democracy Alliance donors. The think tank and its sister political group have received more than $6.1 million from foundations linked to Mr. Wyss, according to tax filings.
Mr. Podesta, the founder of the Center for American Progress, has also advised the Wyss Foundation, including on the hiring of The Hub Project’s executive director, Arkadi Gerney, a former official at the Center for American Progress, according to people with knowledge of the arrangement.
The Hub Project came out of the idea that Democrats should be more effective in conveying their arguments through the news media and directly to voters. Its business plan, a 21-page document prepared for the Wyss Foundation in 2015, recommended that the group “be solely funded by the Wyss Foundation at the outset” and that it would work behind the scenes to “dramatically shift the public debate and policy positions of core decision makers.” The plan added that The Hub Project “is not intended to be the public face of campaigns.”
The Hub Project is part of an opaque network managed by a Washington consulting firm, Arabella Advisors, that has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars through a daisy chain of groups supporting Democrats and progressive causes. The system of political financing, which often obscures the identities of donors, is known as dark money, and Arabella’s network is a leading vehicle for it on the left.
The Arabella network has similarities to the operation created by the Kochs. Democrats have long criticized the Kochs and others who have engaged in the hard-to-track political spending unleashed in part by the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case.
The Arabella network’s money flows through four nonprofits that serve as parent structures for a range of groups, including The Hub Project. The nonprofits then pass some of the funds along to other nonprofit groups or super PACs.
Billionaires have had a pretty good pandemic. There are more of them than there were a year ago, even as the crisis has exacerbated inequality. But scrutiny has followed these ballooning fortunes. Policymakers are debating new taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. Even their philanthropy has come under increasing criticism as an exercise of power as much as generosity.
One arena in which the billionaires can still win plaudits as civic-minded saviors is buying the metropolitan daily newspaper.
The local business leader might not have seemed like such a salvation a quarter century ago, before Craigslist, Google and Facebook began divvying up newspapers’ fat ad revenues. Generally, the neighborhood billionaires are considered worth a careful look by the paper’s investigative unit. But a lot of papers don’t even have an investigative unit anymore, and the priority is survival.
This media landscape nudged newspaper ownership from the vanity column toward the philanthropy side of the ledger. Paying for a few more reporters and to fix the coffee machine can earn you acclaim for a lot less effort than, say, spending two decades building the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
$680 million bid by Hansjörg Wyss, a little-known Swiss billionaire, and Stewart W. Bainum Jr., a Maryland hotel magnate, for Tribune Publishing and its roster of storied broadsheets and tabloids like The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and The Baltimore Sun.
Should Mr. Wyss and Mr. Bainum succeed in snatching Tribune away from Alden Global Capital, whose bid for the company had already won the backing of Tribune’s board, the purchase will represent the latest example of a more than decade-long quest by some of America’s ultrawealthy to prop up a crumbling pillar of democracy.
If there was a signal year in this development, it came in 2013. That is when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post and the Red Sox’ owner, John Henry, bought The Boston Globe.
“I invested in The Globe because I believe deeply in the future of this great community, and The Globe should play a vital role in determining that future,” Mr. Henry wrote at the time.
led a revival of the paper to its former glory. And after a somewhat rockier start, experts said that Mr. Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the chief executive officer of Boston Globe Media Partners, have gone a long way toward restoring that paper as well.
Norman Pearlstine, who served as executive editor for two years after Dr. Soon-Shiong’s purchase and still serves as a senior adviser. “I don’t think that’s open to debate or dispute.”
From Utah to Minnesota and from Long Island to the Berkshires, local grandees have decided that a newspaper is an essential part of the civic fabric. Their track records as owners are somewhat mixed, but mixed in this case is better than the alternative.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released a report last year showing that in the previous 15 years, more than a quarter of American newspapers disappeared, leaving behind what they called “news deserts.” The 2020 report was an update of a similar one from 2018, but just in those two years another 300 newspapers died, taking 6,000 journalism jobs with them.
“I don’t think anybody in the news business even has rose colored glasses anymore,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, a nonprofit journalism advocacy group. “They took them off a few years ago, and they don’t know where they are.”
“The advantage of a local owner who cares about the community is that they in theory can give you runway and also say, ‘Operate at break-even on a cash-flow basis and you’re good,’” said Mr. Rosenstiel.
won a prestigious Polk Award for its coverage of the killing of George Floyd and the aftermath.
“The communities that have papers owned by very wealthy people in general have fared much better because they stayed the course with large newsrooms,” said Ken Doctor, on hiatus as a media industry analyst to work as C.E.O. and founder of Lookout Local, which is trying to revive the local news business in smaller markets, starting in Santa Cruz, Calif. Hedge funds, by contrast, have expected as much as 20 percent of revenue a year from their properties, which can often be achieved only by stripping papers of reporters and editors for short-term gain.
Alden has made deep cuts at many of its MediaNews Group publications, including The Denver Post and The San Jose Mercury News. Alden argues that it is rescuing papers that might otherwise have gone out of business in the past two decades.
And a billionaire buyer is far from a panacea for the industry’s ills. “It’s not just, go find yourself a rich guy. It’s the right rich person. There are lots of people with lots of money. A lot of them shouldn’t run newspaper companies,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and the former editor of The Chicago Tribune. “Sam Zell is Exhibit A. So be careful who you ask.”
beaten a retreat from the industry. And there have even been reports that Dr. Soon-Shiong has explored a sale of The Los Angeles Times (which he has denied).
“The great fear of every billionaire is that by owning a newspaper they will become a millionaire,” said Mr. Rosenstiel.
Elizabeth Green, co-founder and chief executive at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization with 30 reporters in eight cities around the country, said that rescuing a dozen metro dailies that are “obviously shells of their former selves” was never going to be enough to turn around the local news business.
“Even these attempts are still preserving institutions that were always flawed and not leaning into the new information economy and how we all consume and learn and pay for things,” said Ms. Green, who also co-founded the American Journalism Project, which is working to create a network of nonprofit outlets.
Ms. Green is not alone in her belief that the future of American journalism lies in new forms of journalism, often as nonprofits. The American Journalism Project received funding from the Houston philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, the Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, which also bought The Atlantic. Herbert and Marion Sandler, who built one of the country’s largest savings and loans, gave money to start ProPublica.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth of relatively small nonprofits that are now part of what I would call the philanthropic journalistic complex,” said Mr. Doctor. “The question really isn’t corporate structure, nonprofit or profit, the question is money and time.”
operating as a nonprofit.
After the cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest bought The Philadelphia Inquirer, he set up a hybrid structure. The paper is run as a for-profit, public benefit corporation, but it belongs to a nonprofit called the Lenfest Institute. The complex structure is meant to maintain editorial independence and maximum flexibility to run as a business while also encouraging philanthropic support.
Of the $7 million that Lenfest gave to supplement The Inquirer’s revenue from subscribers and advertisers in 2020, only $2 million of it came from the institute, while the remaining $5 million came from a broad array of national, local, institutional and independent donors, said Jim Friedlich, executive director and chief executive of Lenfest.
“I think philosophically, we’ve long accepted that we have no museums or opera houses without philanthropic support,” said Ms. Lipinski. “I think journalism deserves the same consideration.”
Mr. Bainum has said he plans to establish a nonprofit group that would buy The Sun and two other Tribune-owned Maryland newspapers if he and Mr. Wyss succeed in their bid.
“These buyers range across the political spectrum, and on the surface have little in common except their wealth,” said Mr. Friedlich. “Each seems to feel that American democracy is sailing through choppy waters, and they’ve decided to buy a newspaper instead of a yacht.”