The paper analyzed twenty-one of the biggest 100 bankruptcies from 2007 to mid-last year and found those companies paid their CEOs a combined $350 million, a median pay that nearly matches median pay for CEOs of nonbankrupt S&P 500:

In 2006, the company attempted during bankruptcy proceedings to get approval for millions in future bonuses to be paid to six executives. The payments would be made if the executives remained with Dana until it exited bankruptcy and the company achieved certain valuation milestones.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland initially rejected the plan. “Using a familiar fowl analogy, this compensation scheme walks, talks and is a retention bonus,” he wrote.

But then Dana returned to court with a different plan—one calling for the company to meet specific earnings targets. In that round, the judge ruled Dana’s proposal was an “incentive plan” not governed by the new law limiting retention bonuses.

The Dana decision, lawyers say, helped provide a legal road map for other companies, which soon started crafting “incentive” plans and arguing in court that payments were part of their ordinary course of business and a sound exercise of their business judgment.

— Some good news from the nonprofit-news and future-of-news front: MinnPost took in more money than it spent last year, reports Nieman Journalism Lab’s Andrew Phelps.

Just 21 percent of its $1.5 million in revenue came from foundation support. Half came from advertising, sponsors, and memberships.

Traffic to MinnPost.com grew, too. Pageviews rose 20 percent over the year before. The number Kramer prefers, though, is visits from Minnesotans: 3.7 million in 2011, versus 2.8 million the year before.

Unfortunately, Voice of San Diego has had to lay some staff off after falling short last year, Phelps reports.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.