Larry Magid Calls For News Tax To Fund Failing Newspapers
from the uh,-why? dept
But, right towards the end, he writes the following:
Maybe we need to find another model? I realize there would be a lot of objections to using tax money to finance journalism, but I wonder if we should take a look at the British model that finances the BBC's TV, radio and online programming with a $237 tax on whatever device you use to watch TV, be it a computer, personal video recorder, mobile phone or TV set. In Britain, according to the British government's TV licensing Web site, "watching TV without a valid license is a criminal offence."Magid is, certainly, not the first person to call for government funding of newspapers, but he does little to actually explore the idea -- such as looking at the recent report talking about how as more government money goes to funding newspaper activities, the coverage of gov't corruption drops. On top of that, there are serious practical issues here. The BBC setup, involves funding a single national operation, not many different newspapers (which is what the rest of Magid's piece is about). It seems odd that he would effectively be suggesting that we wipe out local newspapers in favor of a gov't funded national news organization.
I'm quite sure that criminalizing unlicensed Web surfing or TV viewing would be even more unpopular with Americans than mandatory health insurance. But unless media companies can find another way to stay in business, we may very well see some serious proposals along these lines.
And, of course, there are all sorts of questions about whether or not this is even needed. Certainly, many newspapers are struggling, though in many cases it's not due to trouble funding operations, but due to the massive debt loads they took on a few years back when management stupidly thought that they were invincible to market changes. At the same time, we're seeing new and innovative startups hiring journalists and doing good work. Shouldn't we let the system work itself out before we suddenly decide to have the government intervene?