Sunday, April 19, 2009

Newspaper Bailouts?!!!!!

Here's the deal. We have a free press. Because they are part of the free enterprise system, they produce a product without interference or direction of any government local, state or federal. The idea is that this freedom from interference gives the media a chance to offer unbiased and independent observations on the job that our elected officials are doing. Or at least that used to be the plan.

With the advent of the narrowing of the news pipeline, as major newspapers fire staff writers and simply copy and paste whatever McLatchey, CNN, AP or other news sources produce, there are some glaring disconnects coming into view. First of all, with less eyes on the situation, it's easier for shady or outright illegal acts to be committed. There are fewer folks to pay off, fewer people to fool. And that's dangerous when you are dealing with powerful people. Secondly, this narrowing of the pipeline has also reduced the diversity of thought editorially and the independence of writing in both editorial and newstory content. The result is that while some readers readily embrace the newspapers even when what the publish is misleading or out and out lies, many of the reading public simply avoid reading newspapers and seek out sources that offer far more balanced and timely reporting.

The final issue has to do with the theme for this week. Every ad, every announcement, every public proclamation has some Earth Week trumped up tie in. So if we have electronic media, which is more instantaneous and has more penetration into the reading market, why are we wasting trees printing daily newspapers? And if this is such an "ungreen" enterprise, why is the government now seeking to subsidize these newspapers for the duration?

This also gets into a "biting the hand that feeds you" scenario. Will publishers and writers dare to call foul on any government enterprise or action if that same government is stabilizing their right to exist? I'm sorry, but I don't think having an American version of Pravda with all the mindless synchophancy that implies is the answer to what the Founding Father meant when they championed a free press and the right to free speech that are supposed to be part of what makes American great.

Excerpt from the column linked in the headline:

Influential Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks has hung up her journalistic hat and joined the Obama administration, but not before penning a public proposal calling for some radical ideas to help bail out the failing news industry.

Brooks, who has taken up a post as an adviser at the Pentagon, advocated upping "direct government support for public media" and creating licenses to govern news operations.

"Years of foolish policies have left us with a choice: We can bail out journalism, using tax dollars and granting licenses in ways that encourage robust and independent reporting and commentary, or we can watch, wringing our hands, as more and more top journalists are laid off," she wrote in her parting column on April 9.

Brooks said this would help rescue the industry from a "death spiral" and left the government unaccountable to the journalists who must keep it honest. "[I] can't imagine anything more dangerous than a society in which the news industry has more or less collapsed," she wrote...."

1 comment:

Darren said...

You always help your friends--which is why this government will seriously consider bailing out newspapers. And since the papers will be beholden to that same government, it's a two-fer!