Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A newspaper subsidy?

That's one idea suggested by Seattle Times president Frank Blethen, during a panel debate with Hearst's Phil Bronstein.

Blethen suggests the subsidy in support of local ownership, on the grounds that media consolidation and public ownership - and the resulting decline in coverage and quality they have had on the industry - illustrates the public need for media watchdogs unfettered by financial constraints.

It's certainly an unusual proposal, and one that probably inspires an autonomic resistance in most taxpaying citizens. But if farmers can be paid to feed people's stomachs, is it really that ludicrous to suggest that journalists might be paid to feed their minds? Oil, lumber, agriculture and many other highly profitable industries receive federal largess. Is the Washington Post any less deserving than Citicorp, IBM, Motorola, DuPont, or Amoco?

What do you think? Is journalism important enough to merit government intervention?

2 comments:

Journeyman said...

Let's make newspapers non profit, like the Poynter Institute did down in Florida.

Len Cutler said...

The St. Petersburg Times is certainly an encouraging business model, and more importantly, one that shows how viable the industry can be when revenues aren't constantly being siphoned off to support outside interests.

But it's unlikely that the newspaper conglomerate corporations would accept the requirements for operating a nonprofit.