FTC Trying To Save Journalism Too... But It Seems To Think Journalism Is Old Newspapers

from the i'm-confused dept

As you may have heard, last week, we announced a fun event that we've put together, coming up on June 16th, called Techdirt Saves* Journalism, which you can sign up for here:
Of course, we're not the only ones looking to "save" journalism. Google, which is sponsoring and hosting our event is, looking to "save" journalism too. And, not to be left out, the FTC is working on its own plans for "saving" journalism, as well. In fact, it's holding a roundtable discussion on the topic just one day before our get-together. Except... the FTC's initial discussion seems a bit suspect. It has put out a "staff discussion" (pdf) of various ideas that are being considered from a policy perspective:
Jeff Jarvis summarizes the problems with the document nicely, in highlighting that they don't appear to be about helping journalism at all. Instead, they seem almost entirely focused on helping legacy newspaper companies survive. Perhaps tellingly, the document kicks off by both admitting and denying that very claim:
Although many of the issues confronting journalism cut across different news media platforms, such as broadcast television and radio, most of the discussion in this document will use the perspective of newspapers to exemplify the issues facing journalism as a whole. Studies have shown that newspapers typically provide the largest quantity of original news to consumers over any given period of time. We include within the term "newspapers" online news websites run either by an existing newspaper or by an online-only news organization. Other sources of news are also important, of course, and proposals for action should not favor newspapers over other news platforms.
That last sentence is the "denial" part, but it never seems to come up again. Many of the proposals would almost certainly massively favor newspapers over other platforms for no good reason other than the fact that some media folks are begging the government to set up laws that favor them over upstart competitors. It's a shame really. The FTC could have put out a document and a discussion that was focused on all of the compelling new business models and sources of reporting and journalism that are happening all over the place. Instead, it seems to just accept that such business models can't possibly produce enough revenue to matter and support the kind of journalism necessary.

While the FTC document goes to great pains to say that it's not clearly recommending any of these particular proposals at this point, the fact that things like expanding hot news is even listed as a possibility is downright scary. Expanding hot news is in no way about helping journalism. It's about stifling it.

All in all the problems with the document are pretty serious. It's an attempt to define the future by extrapolating the past. That's not how innovation happens. However, if anyone from the FTC would like to take a more forward-looking approach to enabling journalism in the modern era, they're welcome to attend our event...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 11:33am

    " Expanding hot news is in no way about helping journalism"

    "All in all the problems with the document are pretty serious. It's an attempt to define the future by extrapolating the past. That's not how innovation happens."

    I guess we are heading towards a DMCA style take down system for news articles on blogs. With high fines, and after ACTA, jail time for reporting the news through non official channels.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 11:44am

    "other than the fact that some media folks are begging the government to set up laws that favor them over upstart competitors."

    This is exactly right and I DON'T WANT THESE LAWS!!!! FTC, GO AWAY!!!!

     

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    Comboman (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Catalog of bad ideas

    OMG, this document reads like a catalog of bad ideas! Among the worst:

    - Redefining fair use to exclude search engines & aggregators

    - Copyright protection for facts (i.e. "hot news")

    - Allowing newspapers to collude in creating a common paywall and exempting them from the resulting antitrust action

    - Statutory licensing of news

    - Tax breaks for newspapers

    - Government subsidies (i.e. Bailouts) paid for by:
    - electronic device tax (i.e. iPad/Kindle tax)
    - advertising tax (i.e. Google tax)
    - spectrum/ISP taxes (i.e. everybody-else tax)

    I only got up to page 23, I don't think I can read any more without gouging my eyes out.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 1:48pm

      Re: Catalog of bad ideas

      Its the newspaper version of ACTA ... Hoo-ah ... our laws again sold to the highest bidder. And yes I do realize this is just an FTC report but it is the beginning of a push for this to be implemented.

      This sort of protectionism wont work. There will be free competition from an huge number of sources. The news papers that stay free will reap the rewards. Hot news, and firewalls wont work because the instant it is published someone with a subscription will rewite it and post it. The taxes wont work either. Its a wish list that will do damage if implemented. In the end will be an abject Fail with a capital F.

       

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    bob, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 2:05pm

    Shills

    The newspapers that are having problems are also the ones who are left of center progressive/liberal/leftist/big government.
    Shills for the current progressive big government types currently laying economic waste to our country.
    Of course government has to step in and save them while at the same time limiting speech on the internet.
    The regime in power only wants to grow government, at our loss of liberty.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 2:30pm

      Re: Shills

      The newspapers that are having problems are also the ones who are left of center progressive/liberal/leftist/big government.

      Fun conspiracy theory angle, but not even close to true in reality. The right-leaning publications own by Rupert Murdoch are in pretty serious trouble as well. There is no evidence I've seen that suggests political leanings have helped or hurt any particular newspaper.

       

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      nasch (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 3:46pm

      Re: Shills

      Oh yes, the conservative papers are all doing great. And the last administration was all about personal liberty and reducing government power. Sheesh.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 3:32pm

    replace with "techdirt gets in front of buzzword wave"*

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:06pm

    hahaha tech dirt saving journalism? with the kind of bias plastered here, no wonder journalism has a bad name.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 1st, 2010 @ 6:58pm

      Re:

      hahaha tech dirt saving journalism? with the kind of bias plastered here, no wonder journalism has a bad name.

      Looks like someone didn't read the disclaimer. You know... I wondered if we should post the disclaimer on every post where we mention the event, and now I'm thinking maybe we should.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 6:52am

        Re: Re:

        Its not just this article that makes me laugh at that statement, or any single article, it the body of work.
        And yes you should put a disclaimer on every article you write, not just in this series. Here let me give you a starting point for the disclaimer..

        all subject matter in this column is completely subjective, Mike Masnic is completely incapable of removing his opinion from any article he writes.

        something of that nature would do.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 1:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And yes you should put a disclaimer on every article you write, not just in this series

          Shocking news: I have an opinion and am not a reporter.

          Film at 11.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 7:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            you aren't joking, you certainly are not, yet you imply you are. A reporter would actually research a story, you don't. A reporter would tell the whole story, you don't. A reporter would give an objective account of the story, you don't.

            trying to save journalism indeed. if you want to save journalism, be a little more objective when you, for the lack of a better term, "report" stories. See, its opinion laced media (people like you) that is killing journalism, in case you didn't know.

            Just the facts, ma'am.

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 10:59pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              you aren't joking, you certainly are not, yet you imply you are.

              Um. Very much joking. But, I get the feeling I'm not going to convince you either way.

              A reporter would actually research a story, you don't. A reporter would tell the whole story, you don't. A reporter would give an objective account of the story, you don't.

              Indeed. Absolutely. You are 100% correct.

              That is why I have stated *repeatedly* that I am not a journalist. I am an opinion blogger and I post whatever I find interesting to kick off a discussion, which happens in the comments.

              I have never claimed to be a reporter. So I'm not sure why you're so up in arms about this.

              trying to save journalism indeed.

              Again, please read the disclaimer before you get so upset.

              if you want to save journalism, be a little more objective when you, for the lack of a better term, "report" stories. See, its opinion laced media (people like you) that is killing journalism, in case you didn't know.

              Really? How so? How is me and others having an opinion "killing journalism"? Seriously. Please explain how that in *any way* gets in the way of real journalism happening? I'm not a journalist, and never claimed to be. I state my opinion. That's it.

              I'm not saying I'm a journalist at all. We're not holding this event because I'm a journalist. We're not holding this event because I think I can save journalism. We're holding this event because I -- and many Techdirt readers -- like to discuss interesting challenges being faced in different markets. So we're bringing together a bunch of really smart people to brainstorm interesting ideas. That's it.

              I find it weird that you're so upset that we want to bring people together to talk about stuff.

              Just the facts, ma'am.


              Other than the fact that most of your "facts" are wrong... But, of course, real journalists never get stuff wrong, right?

               

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2011 @ 6:42pm

    The FTC thinks journalism is newspapers because the Chairman's wife is an editor at the Washington Post. Corrupt politics at its very head.

     

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