Forget Google Supporting Newspapers; Now Some Think The Gov't Should Prop Up Newspapers

from the ah,-how-quickly-we-pretend-the-world-is-ending dept

It's no secret that many folks in the newspaper industry are freaked out by the market changes impacting what they do. However, we keep hearing increasingly bizarre suggestions for solutions. My personal favorite is still the idea that Google somehow has a moral obligation to just give money to journalists. The latest such suggestion may be even more far-fetched, with a long article at the Columbia Journalism Review suggesting it's time to start thinking about having the government prop up newspapers (via Romenesko). The good news is that many people asked about this suggestion respond with reasonable distaste (or outright horror) to the idea. The author of the piece brings up examples of government support for news operations, but in almost every case the scenario is quite different. Often, the gov't support is for getting something going in an areas where there's nothing, rather than propping up an industry that has had trouble adapting to a changing marketplace. The fact is that it's silly to think that there really aren't business models that can support a reasonable news operation (and yes, they need to realize it's a news operation, not a newspaper, if they want to survive). The demand for news and information continues to increase, as does the supply. It's certainly shifting business models around, but it's a huge opportunity for those who can spot the economic trends and adapt to them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Awesome Mr Ethan, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 10:19pm

    It seems like, if they were really concerned about this sort of thing, they would've published the story in a newspaper.
    Especially if it's somehow better than the internet. Riiight.

     

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    Overcast, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 11:11pm

    Great idea, have the government take complete control of the newspapers...

    Hmm, where have I heard that idea before, I wonder.

     

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    Ruben Espinal, Sep 29th, 2007 @ 5:00am

    Government Subsidice News

    LOL!
    I thought the US Government or should I say...The Cheyni/Bush Regime was allready supportive of the conglomerate news mafia (Fox, CNN, CBS, New Times, Post, etc). What is this NeoCon guy suggesting? We should feel sorry for this RICH and BIAS news corporations?

     

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    Richard Lemieux, Sep 29th, 2007 @ 1:52pm

    Freedom of the press.

    The internet brings the freedom of press one step further. We can easily read news from all countries and compare many opinions. That's a threat to the conglomerate new mafia.

    Only a very corrupted government would help them. This is probably why this idea is coming out now.

    Let me show you an example of the all powerful news mafia: All developed countries (all Europe, Russia) are spending a lot to bring down their CO2 emissions. The USA is the only country on the planet where the news often cast a doubt about the human role in global warming. We are also the worst polluter by FAR. All that because of the polluter subsidized mafia.

     

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    Paul, Sep 29th, 2007 @ 4:12pm

    The root of the problem...

    ...is that technology evolved too quickly for some markets to keep up. Some markets seemed to embrace it where it could (the financial market for example) whereas other markets seemed to try to find some way to force the new technology to fit into their old business models. The RIAA, MPAA, and the newspapers are apparently big examples of the latter. Maybe this is why newspapers have no problem touting the fictional stats the RIAA/MPAA bring up about piracy. They may have some informal alliance against the internet. Granted, this is a little bit conspiracy theory and is probably not true, but in all honesty, the thought may lie there with them. They may just see each other as "victims" of the internet and are therefore "nice" to each other.

     

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    peehole, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 1:08am

    1) nobody said 'complete control'
    a) not that i'd expect much of a change w/ the news if that happened seeing as the current news as the general public knows and loves it does their best to turn anything and everything into a total shitfest (i

     

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    Haywood, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 5:34am

    "Danny DeVito Other People's Money

    You know, at one time there must have been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw.

     

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    m74k3H, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 6:09am

    Four thoughts...

    1. Unless newspapers want to get to at least 3-4 editions a day everyday they can't possibly keep up with the internet.
    2. If I could get a print newspaper that can give me news from several different sources (NY Times, BBC, al-Jazeera, Fox, etc.) then I might consider it. But I doubt this could be pulled off in any practical way. And don't even say "Reader's Digest"
    3. It always amuses me when the US government triumphs free markets, then when a certain business begins to fail in those markets, the government tries to prop them up (Amtrak, farm subsidies, now newspapers)
    4. Government sponsored newspapers aren't newspapers, it's propaganda

     

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    john q. public, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 11:09am

    I look forward to the day the alphabet news is gon

    ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WaPost and their ilk consistently slant the news toward the poor, the lazy, the stupid, the wonder of big-tax, big-spend, cradel-to-grave social spending to "better" the lives of those governed.

    Never encouraging self-improvement. Always cheering the victim but never the the successful. Sneering at the ethical, the honest, the self-sufficient the Christian, Mormon or Jewish.

    Apologizing for the terrorist, the militant, the dictator, the anarchist, the smelly, bug-infested, doped-out hippie.

    Let them go under they are not worth the butt-wiping some bum can get out of 'em.

     

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    A Human Mind, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 12:36pm

    Govt should and does prop up journalism

    Don't ridicule government support of journalism. The article points out that "[...]the nation was built on the idea that we have to put into place policies that guarantee journalism no matter what." It also points out that "[...] media have often been forced to sell audiences to advertisers rather than journalism to consumers."

    Consider the trivial battles between CNN and Fox for ratings. Consider the endless coverage of O.J. and other infotainment. The business-based model brings us this nonsense. There's a place for this, but business and extremism shouldn't be the only support for "journalism".

     

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      Arochone, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 6:23pm

      Re: Govt should and does prop up journalism

      Exactly. As Richard said above, the internet brings true freedom of the press. The internet provides a way to distribute news without needed much money, and therefore without needing to fight for viewers and ratings. The internet will guarantee journalism, as long as it remains out of government control. So why should the government prop up the old, nonsense news sources?

       

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        A Human Mind, Oct 1st, 2007 @ 7:32am

        Re: Re: Govt should and does prop up journalism

        The internet certainly brings a form of freedom of the press, but it still has to fight for ratings. Cheap news can mean cheap content. Real newsgathering is expensive:

        Daniel Hallin, chairman of the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego, points out what he calls “one of the greatest ironies” of today’s vast media landscape: “In this so-called information age, we actually have fewer reporters now gathering the basic information on which the whole information society operates.” According to Hallin, the proliferation of media outlets and programming is largely occurring in two domains: commentary and entertainment. “The amount of serious information-gathering is actually going down,” he says. “Dramatically so.” Few Web sites independent of newspapers are doing serious newsgathering. (emphasis added)
        Richard seems to prefer European news over other news. The article points out that most European countries have been subsidizing the press, both directly and indirectly, for decades. I wouldn't say that the govt should intend to prop up "nonsense news". The article points out NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as examples of how government subsidies had helped.

        Also, Richard's important reports do not seem to be publicized to his satisfaction in spite of inexpensive internet content. Excellent journalism may need help in being heard above the cheap chatter on the internet (and elsewhere).

         

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    Alisha, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 4:58pm

    Newspapers, travel agents, which one is more irrel

    That reminds me of the travel agents and industry reps who went before Congress right after 911, begging and crying for their industry to be bailed out by the taxpayers, just like the airlines were going to be bailed out. One woman in particular warned Congress that America would suffer greatly with fewer travel agent professionals, yada yada yada... I wanted to throw something at the TV set, screaming 'you signed your own death warrant before 911, you travel agent nazi biatch!' I was a frequent traveler, and at that point had been booking my own travel since 1990, without much aid of a travel agent. The last trip I planned shortly before 911 included cashing in a very large travel voucher, a gift from one of the airlines for giving up my seat on a busy flight the year before. I couldn't find a travel agent willing to help me without charging me a service fee. All wanted to meet me only with schedued in advance appointments, telling me that processing this travel voucher was time-consuming and would cost me a service fee, blah blah blah. Basically letting me know that they were doing me a big favor. F--- you, travel nazi, newspaper publisher, airline exec, and all else who whine and cry about needing government protection from society's innovations and technological advancements. A friend referred me to the satellite office of my airline. They handled my travel voucher easily and in minutes, without any gnashing or gnawing of teeth. Six years and counting after 911, I still have never found reason to call a travel agent for anything, and I no longer subscribe to newspapers or magazines. My information and tailored content is now all brought to me online, and my favorite airlines email me directly with special travel offers and incentives. Like the travel nazi biatch, the newspapers have made themselves largely irrelevant in my daily life. News changes and breaks so frequently that a traditional newspaper subscription is an albatross around the neck of a self-proclaimed news junkie like myself.

     

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      ayup, Oct 1st, 2007 @ 8:42am

      Re: Newspapers, travel agents, which one is more i

      I'd like to see how you're going to get news directly from the source without any paid journalists to get it for you. The costs of running a quality, independent news organization are such that ppc or ppa internet pricing models cannot sustain such a staff.

      God help us all when and if the day comes that we all get our so-called "news" from bloggers sitting in their jammies in their Mommie's basement.

       

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    Alisha, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 5:01pm

    Update with HTML code and the P key. Duh. Newspa

    That reminds me of the travel agents and industry reps who went before Congress right after 911, begging and crying for their industry to be bailed out by the taxpayers, just like the airlines were going to be bailed out. One woman in particular warned Congress that America would suffer greatly with fewer travel agent professionals, yada yada yada...

    I wanted to throw something at the TV set, screaming 'you signed your own death warrant before 911, you travel agent nazi biatch!' I was a frequent traveler, and at that point had been booking my own travel since 1990, without much aid of a travel agent. The last trip I planned shortly before 911 included cashing in a very large travel voucher, a gift from one of the airlines for giving up my seat on a busy flight the year before. I couldn't find a travel agent willing to help me without charging me a service fee.

    All wanted to meet me only with schedued in advance appointments, telling me that processing this travel voucher was time-consuming and would cost me a service fee, blah blah blah. Basically letting me know that they were doing me a big favor. F--- you, travel nazi, newspaper publisher, airline exec, and all else who whine and cry about needing government protection from society's innovations and technological advancements.

    A friend referred me to the satellite office of my airline. They handled my travel voucher easily and in minutes, without any gnashing or gnawing of teeth. Six years and counting after 911, I still have never found reason to call a travel agent for anything, and I no longer subscribe to newspapers or magazines. My information and tailored content is now all brought to me online, and my favorite airlines email me directly with special travel offers and incentives.

    Like the travel nazi biatch, the newspapers have made themselves largely irrelevant in my daily life. News changes and breaks so frequently that a traditional newspaper subscription is an albatross around the neck of a self-proclaimed news junkie like myself.

     

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      identicon
      Chill, Oct 1st, 2007 @ 7:57am

      Re: Update with HTML code and the P key. Duh. Ne

      Wow. Look at the irrelevant rage. Maybe a fee was appropriate. Maybe they were doing Alisha a favor. Maybe they aren't nazi biatches. Maybe wanting to throw things and scream and talk about death warrants was over the top. Maybe the travel agents are glad not to have Alisha as a customer. Maybe Alisha didn't even read the article.

       

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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Oct 1st, 2007 @ 6:58am

    The New National Pastime

    Why is it that every time a certain business model is threatened by a changing marketplace, a lot of people want to go crying to Mama Government. We have become a nation of helpless crybabies. God forbid we have another depression, society would collapse in months.

     

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