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The Media Government The Almighty Buck

Journalists Looking For Government Money 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the bizarro-world dept.
We've been following the ongoing struggles of the print media, watching as some publications have died off and others have held to outdated principles and decried the influence of the internet. A side effect of this has been many journalists put out of work and many others fearful that informed reporting is on its way out as well. Now, an editorial in the Washington Post calls for a solution journalists would likely have scoffed at only a few years ago: federal subsidies. Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols write, "What to do? Bailing out media conglomerates would be morally and politically absurd. These firms have run journalism into the ground. If they cannot make it, let them go. Wait for 'pay-wall' technologies, billionaire philanthropists or unimagined business models to generate enough news to meet the immense demands of a self-governing society? There is no evidence that such a panacea is on the horizon. This leaves one place to look for a solution: the government." They hasten to add, "Did we just call for state-run media? Quite the opposite."
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Journalists Looking For Government Money

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  • good description (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:25AM (#29934381)

    They have run journalism into the ground...

    If they would move past "Infotainment" and got back to writing good "News" instead of creating "Crisis" and attacking an administration simply to raise advertising funding I'd be inclined to buy a newspaper to read.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sperbels (1008585)

      If they would move past "Infotainment" and got back to writing good "News" instead of creating "Crisis" and attacking an administration simply to raise advertising funding I'd be inclined to buy a newspaper to read.

      I don't like this any more than you but come on, the newspapers are folding because people are reading their news online...for free. It's as simple as that.

      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:05AM (#29934669)
        I stopped reading the newspaper before I started reading news online. I stopped reading the newspaper because every article contained some political commentary whether there was any relationship between the subject of the story and the political comment.
        • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:10AM (#29934687) Journal
          Exactly. I quit reading and subscribing to both my local and state papers when every. single. article. had enough spin slathered on top of it that I felt like I was reading Pravda. Way too many papers have been completely taken over by the hard left or hard right and pretty much spin everything so hard it feels like it was written by birthers. No thanks.
          • Re:good description (Score:5, Interesting)

            by FutureDomain (1073116) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:22AM (#29934769)
            Have you read Pravda lately? Ironically, they sometimes seem to be more insightful than the American media.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by tomhudson (43916)

              Have you read Pravda lately? Ironically, they sometimes seem to be more insightful than the American media.

              This is slashdot - people here read Depravada - russian pr0n.

              The problem is easily fixed - let the weaker ones fold. Right now, there are obviously too many newspapers for the market. Also, their product is ecologically unsound, and by the time it reaches the reader, it's out of date.

              If 90% were to close tomorrow, it would give the rest a chance to survive as a niche product, because newspapers

            • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @02:10PM (#29935849) Journal

              NPR just recently covered this issue. NPR came-down on the "government funding is a good idea" viewpoint. Gee what a surprise. A partially government-funded organization that thinks more government funding is great! They have inadvertently demonstrated how Uncle Sam dollars can skew viewpoints - naturally NPR is in favor of *more* Uncle Sam programs, because "he" is their sugar daddy. ;-)

              http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2009/10/30/03 [onthemedia.org]
              Take For Granted
              October 30, 2009

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by kylemonger (686302)
                NPR is indifferent to sources of funding. They have a huge endowment, take government money, take corporate money and beg for money from individuals every spring and fall by way of their local affiliates. If men from Mars landed today, NPR would be interviewing them tomorrow and asking them for money the next day. If the question is "money", NPR's answer is going to be "yes."
          • by Philip K Dickhead (906971) <folderol@fancypants.org> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:32AM (#29934851) Journal

            250 years ago, there were no "newspapers". They were technologically impossible, and demographically unreadable.

            We had broadsheets for the limited press-runs we were capable of. And for the limited, literate population of large cities. These were pasted as bills, and informally circulated in the leaf.

            In the time of the American and French revolutions, the day belonged to the pamphleteer. His screeds, fulminations and genuine insights were the fuel for popular discourses. When the American Constitution enshrined a freedom for the press in basic law, it was the pamphleteer and "almanack" editor for whom this waas a guarantee. You may recognize the pamphleteer.

            Today we call him "the blogger".

            Newspapers grew, as a 19th century phenomenon for the obvious reasons we implied, as literate middle-classes expanded in the cities, with money to spend. Industrial papermaking and printing replaced paper-hanging and letter-press, and it became possible to turn the massive engines of industry to something as trivial as glorified broadsheets, rather than simply the production of necessities. In fact, investment capital seeking returns, demanded finding new avenues for industrialization. The newspaper was born.

            Now that the demands and opportunities of 19th century central industrialization have passed from the page of history, why should the newspaper magically be granted an existence, into perpetuity? They did not found our societies, and were instrumental mostly in our worst excesses and prejudices, not in promoting our best values and opportunities.

            If they still make buggy-whips, let their time fade away.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by davester666 (731373)

              Dammit, if the newspaper industry is going to get a bailout, then I demand a subsidy for my failing horse and buggy firm!

            • by oh2 (520684)
              Mod the above guy up!
            • But if they get a bailout then will I get some government subsidy for my witty, entertaining, and insightful Slashdot comments, or will it just for my troll posts?
            • Re:good description (Score:5, Informative)

              by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @01:09PM (#29935447) Journal

              >>>250 years ago, there were no "newspapers". They were technologically impossible, and demographically unreadable.

              That's only true if you completely-and-totally ignore the existence of founding father Benjamin Franklin. He ran a weekly Philadelphia newspaper for several decades, and became so rich he was able to retire at age 40 (circa 1750). Granted he also earned money from publishing other people's books, but to say newspapers were not possible is an untruth.

              I bet the major cities of Europe also had newspapers in the 1700s.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Those who think "sensationalism" or "political slant" is anything new need to go watch the movie His Girl Friday, made in the 1930s. This stuff dates waaaay back all the way to the 1800s. It's nothing new.

          When you have a free press it's only natural the paper will reflect the view of whoever owns it. It's our job as citizens to read both sides of the story and determine where the truth lies. Back in the past that would have meant reading both the Philadelphia Democrat and the Inquirer (republican-slante

      • No, the entertainment factor injected into news has put a lot of people, including myself, off of looking at most news. A newspaper is ideal for sitting on the shitter but when what's coming out of me is less shit than what I'm reading them I won't pay for the paper.
      • Re:good description (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jadavis (473492) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @12:56PM (#29935341)

        the newspapers are folding because people are reading their news online...for free

        The WSJ[1], and the Economist[2] are doing just fine. Why are particular publications immune? There must be another explanation.

        [1] http://www.editorsweblog.org/newspaper/2009/10/wsj_rising_circulation_offers_glimmer_of.php [editorsweblog.org]
        [2] http://www.economistgroup.com/our_news/press_releases/2009/results_for_the_year_ended_march_31st_2009.html [economistgroup.com]

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BeanThere (28381)

          I don't know about WSJ but I can vouch for the Economist - I regularly pay money to read it because it's got very good (actual) journalism about happenings all over the world.

          The mainstream media is failing because they couldn't be bothered to do journalism anymore. There are major problems all over the world that need urgent attention from the media that get massively collectively ignored by the media. Let them fail. We're genuinely reaching the point where bloggers and an army of citizens with cellphone c

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gerf (532474)

      They have run journalism into the ground...

      Bull. Their business models just suck. Really, advertising potential has not decreased, but only shifted ever so slightly. If you offer a truly good experience on a local oriented website, you can recoup the losses of the drop in dead-tree paper sales. There might be more work involved, but there is still potential

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Bull. Their business models just suck."

        It's neither all one or the other. Their business models are poor. Their needs assessment is pitiful, since they don't contact customers to figure out why they are leaving. Their writing has gone into hard left or right spin. And their ads have just kept getting bigger and worse or more pervasive. Their formatting sucks; they've brought newspaper to the online world by following the online format of an article page, which is not the strong points in the newspaper

      • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @12:21PM (#29935137) Journal

        They have run journalism into the ground...

        Those few who retain some form of journalistic integrity are probably doing fine, especially if they have adapted their business models in a sensible way. To take an example, the only news subscription I have nowadays is to The Economist magazine. It's worth reading every week, almost from cover to cover, with proper coverage and generally thoughtful analysis (I don't always agree with their opinions, but enjoy reading them). Even the advertising tends to be good quality, from the likes of Boeing, DHL, HSBC, etc.

        Importantly, their web site is free-access for a limited amount of their content, but a good deal of it requires a subscription. Happily, the dead-tree subscription includes an online access subscription. Mostly, I read the printed version, but occasionally use the web site.

        Another difference compared to much of the news media is that the writers of artcles in The Economist are usually not identified. One reads the report for what it is, not for which self-styled superstar of journalism happened to pen it. Equally, the anonymity of the journalists prevents them from posturing in the report or attempting any self-aggrandizement in the style of would-be superstars of journalism.

    • by Znork (31774) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:54AM (#29934603)

      They have run journalism into the ground...

      Without a doubt.

      attacking an administration simply to raise advertising funding

      I have nothing against attacks on administrations, but what passes for such today is largely irrelevant misdirection. Journalists with any significant insight into the subjects reported about, necessary to avoid being just a spokespuppet, are rare. Which is largely why professional 'reporters' are losing out to people with knowledge about the subject matter but with only amateurish reporting skills. If the journalist is merely a conduit, well, then frankly a blog page can do that.

      But neither is really relevant. The real problem for the journalism business is there's simply too much of it. Barring the prospects of consumers suddenly getting vast amounts of new free time, it simply needs to be massively downsized. In the modern world we don't need 100 reporters at a White House press conference. The job can be done by three or four, and then aggregated and translated. We don't need one reporter per olympic sportsman. Consumers can only read that much in a day, and when output is globally available, there isn't enough time in the world to consume even a miniscule fraction of it.

      Once far more of the business is dead and gone, then the remaining outlets will get many more eyeballs and much better advertising rates. Redundant work will have been eliminated, and in a functioning economy we'd all have gotten a little bit more free time as less actual work needs to be done. In this one we'll instead get a slight tax raise and get forced to subsidize work that has no demand and shouldn't be done.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        In the modern world we don't need 100 reporters at a White House press conference. The job can be done by three or four, and then aggregated and translated.

        3 or 4 reporters can't turn into an ugly mob when a gov't official starts shoveling shit down their throats.
        So lets keep the large press conferences and press pools.
        Or do you really think 3 or 4 people can represent 300 million Americans?

        Which is largely why professional 'reporters' are losing out to people with knowledge about the subject matter but with only amateurish reporting skills. If the journalist is merely a conduit, well, then frankly a blog page can do that.

        Copyediting? Ship the Work Out to India
        http://www.businessweek.com/print/globalbiz/content/jul2008/gb2008078_678274.htm [businessweek.com]

        Journalists aren't losing out to bloggers.
        Sooner or later the USA is going to outsource everything.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Mattern (191822)

          Or do you really think 3 or 4 people can represent 300 million Americans?

          They are *reporters*. They don't "represent" anybody.

  • by cheddarlump (834186) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:32AM (#29934433)
    What a fantastic way to ensure a free press: have them paid by the very institution they're supposed to be the watchdogs for. I'm sure they won't forget how to be objective and unbiased though... /sarcasm
    • by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:39AM (#29934505) Journal

      The thing is, the criticism they'll hand out will be like the BBC, bitching about how the government isn't doing enough.

      -jcr

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The American Press is already owned by the government, just not directly. When was the last, really hard hitting documentary you saw on American television? When was the last time you saw a journalist beat up on a senator or congressman (with good, tough, questions and a refusal to yeild) that led to them "blackballing" that particular newspaper/journalist?

      One of the best Australian TV shows that is quite prepared to ask tough/embaressing questions of any member of parliament is the "7:30 Report", on the AB

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lawpoop (604919)

        The American Press is already owned by the government, just not directly.

        The government doesn't own the press in the United States. Rather, they are both owned by corporations. The corporations want you to *think* that the government "owns" the press, and that the government is a Big Bad Boogeyman who must be defanged, because representational democracy is the only weapon the people have against unchecked corporate power.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @01:00PM (#29935387) Journal
        One of the advantages something like the BBC has is that it is too big for government officials to blackball. It an MP goes on Question Time or Newsnight and gets a grilling, then clips from that will show up everywhere. If they then refuse to talk to BBC reporters then that will be reported. The journalistic establishment is quite close nit in London and if you are refusing to talk to some reporters then you can bet that the ones that you will talk to are going to go out of their way to give you a hard time. If you don't talk to any, then they'll just get your opponents to talk about you instead of letting you speak.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        >>>When was the last, really hard hitting documentary you saw on American television?

        Glenn Beck does a virtual documentary every day. You may think he's an ass or a joke but he is right about one thing: We should be asking questions. What is the government up to, why are they doing it, and who is behind these decisions? What, why, who are the questions we should all be asking.

        Rachel Maddow operates a similar program over at MSNBC.

    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot <(ten.egdup) (ta) (todhsals)> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:54AM (#29934605) Homepage Journal

      They hasten to add, "Did we just call for state-run media? Quite the opposite."

      No, that is precisely what they called for.

      Whoever holds the purse strings is in control.

      The government might GRANT control, day to day, to the private people, but they can exert control whenever they wish to.

      And you're exactly right cheddarlump ... the press cannot be beholden to the government. It's a travesty. Just like "shield laws," where the press are beholden to the government to offer them special privileges, which, being legislative and particular to the people who have them, can be revoked.

      The way to an actual free press is to for government to give every citizen the same rights, and to stay completely out of the system.

      The real story here is that they want to save their own jobs, because they cannot figure out how to save them any other way. This isn't about The Press. If it were, they'd not have been doing such a terrible job (even before the Web came around).

      I mean come on ... look at the fricking New York Times. In the wake of Jayson Blair, they promised to rein in anonymous sources. They didn't. As a result, no one trusts the Times anymore, and no one should.

      No one trusts the "blogs" either, but at least you don't pay for those.

      • by Glock27 (446276) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:26AM (#29934815)

        And you're exactly right cheddarlump ... the press cannot be beholden to the government. It's a travesty. Just like "shield laws," where the press are beholden to the government to offer them special privileges, which, being legislative and particular to the people who have them, can be revoked.

        The total irony here is many media outlets are being increasingly ignored over their fawning, lapdog approach to 0bama - without even a financial benefit.

        They're really just asking to be paid for their efforts.

      • Two points (Score:3, Interesting)

        by microbox (704317)
        Whoever holds the purse strings is in control.
        • The BBC is a government institution that holds its own purse strings -- effectively having the right to raise its own taxes.
        • In western countries, public news organisations offer by far the highest quality of reporting. Furthermore, we get that without advertising, and for less total cost. It's amazes me that people will dismiss such a solution out of hand.

        Personally I can't wait for the demise of corporate media -- which is beholden to advertising and other c

        • by jadavis (473492)

          I see you chose the BBC as your example, but what about the CBC? The CBC is notoriously biased and uncritical of government. You may trust it, but (a) I don't trust the CBC, and I don't want something similar here; and (b) I don't trust you to tell me who to trust.

          I want independent organizations with their own revenue sources reporting critically on the government. Everyone complains about FNC, but they sometimes break stories that matter, and they are the only ones that even investigate this stuff because

        • Re:Two points (Score:4, Insightful)

          by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @01:24PM (#29935559) Journal

          >>>The BBC is a government institution that holds its own purse strings --

          Except when you don't pay that TV license fee (tax), then the BBC calls on the government to round you up and toss you in jail, or extract the funds from your paycheck. So the BBC is not really independent of the government - its *beholden* to the government to enforce its collection of funds.
          .

          >>>In western countries, public news organisations offer by far the highest quality of reporting

          Not in the States. NPR and PBS sucks when it comes to news gathering since it was biased towards a statist regime (more/bigger government). If the reporters at this organizations had their way private ownership would be dead and our homes/car/et cetera would all be government owned. Okay I maybe be exaggerating a little but that is how their reporting leans.

          The only good news is that NPR/PBS only costs me about $10 a year in taxation, so it doesn't really "hurt" me that much.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

          The BBC is a government institution that holds its own purse strings -- effectively having the right to raise its own taxes.

          Yes. And the BBC also is controlled by the government, which regulates content and can fine news organizations for not doing what the government thinks they should do.

          In western countries, public news organisations offer by far the highest quality of reporting.

          False.

          Furthermore, we get that without advertising, and for less total cost.

          Also false. There IS advertising -- in the U.S. anyway -- and the total cost is only less depending on how you're looking at it.

          Now keep in mind, my favorite news program is NewsHour -- I watch it every day -- which is funded in part from government sources. So it's not like I am saying they do poor reporting.

          But my argument is that q

      • by oh2 (520684)
        We have subsidies for the press in Sweden, and its working fairly well. The way it works is that the biggest newspaper in a certain market gets no subsidies, but the smaller competitors do. Its intended to ensure that no one company or political organization gets a monopoly on news and published opinion just by being large enough that they can kill off their competitors through that.

        The government has no real say in who gets the subsidies since its illegal for a government minister to interfere with the

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by oh2 (520684)
          We spend about $60M per year on this in Sweden. The conditions are that you have to be the second largest newspaper in town, have a circulation of at least 2000 mainly through subscriptions, must not have more than 30% of the local market and it must not have turn a profit. There are other minor conditions as well, but thats basically how it works. The money is apportioned by a special board thats politically independent.
      • by Nikker (749551)
        Wow, I just looked up that Blair guy, I must have had my head stuck in the sand for the past 6 years. It seems that this kid was a liar from day one, makes you wonder how many more of these types are around taking up print.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      What a fantastic way to ensure a free press: have them paid by the very institution they're supposed to be the watchdogs for.

      I find that hard to believe. Where are Jon and Kate Gosselin going to get the money?

    • The press is indeed the watchdog. So watches the media moguls? The journalists paid by those moguls?

      Why do you think you see so little info in the big media controlled press about copyright abuses by big media? Gosh, I wonder why.

      Amazing, you can spot that it is a bad idea for the press to be owned by anyone but only think it is bad if the government is the one doing the owning. My complements to your brainwasher, he did a wonderful job, especially considering how delicate it is to wash such a small brain

      • Calling someone an idiot is not a good way of conducting a debate, especially when it is unwarranted. Your point and the grandparents are entirely orthogonal. His point is that the press is the fourth estate. In the USA, you have the two branches of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary and power is balanced between them so that neither can do much without at least the implicit consent of the other two. The free press is another leg balancing this system. If you move the control of the pres

    • There is public funding of the arts in many countries - this does not produce pro-government art. Instead, it produces things that about five people in a million enjoy. With sufficient government funding, you would probably get something similar out of journalism...

      Seriously, as long as it's structured right, government funding of newspapers isn't a disaster. It needs to be structured in such a way that the degree of support (or lack of it) is based on objective criteria, like the number of subscribers.

  • Let them die. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:32AM (#29934439) Journal

    Else we'll have the situation with Boscovs which was bailed-out, but after examining the store, I think should have died.

    This store has not been modernized its look since the 1980s, still employs three people to man every single register (wasteful), and carries product a modern consumer has little-to-no interest in buying (sewing patterns & machines to make your own clothes). Other stores like Penneys and Sears have streamlined their operations, eliminating product that doesn't sell, and having 3 employees serve an entire QUARTER of a store not just one register. They've cut costs and grown more efficient. Boscovs has not.

    Government bail-outs for stores just encourage inefficiency. Ditto bail-outs for newspapers. Let the papers innovate or pass-away into history (along with horsewhips and cobblers).

  • Once you start getting $$$ from good ole goobermint teet they pretty much tell you what you can do. Same will happen with the media. After all, if they allow journalists to get money, how are they going to control who gets the $$$ or not?

    It's simple! They only fund people that are "favorable" to this years 'fad' administration.

  • Wha? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:33AM (#29934449)
    How would government financing of media be anything but state-run media? The media is already tainted with clear and evident bias. And that's on all fronts, for those who want to taunt Fox news. We expect it from commentators and that is generally where the most overt lies but most news agencies get their news from AP and Reuters feeds. And many of them frankly read like commentary. As if personal bias hasn't destroyed true journalism over the past several decades what do you think asking for a hand-out from an administration already quite intolerant of dissent is going to do?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:34AM (#29934457)

    The broadcast spectrum monopolies that CBS,NBC,ABC don't pay a cent for and use to ram nonstop propaganda and spam down our throats, plus the entire copyright system (deployment of government power to control what people can do with the information on their own computers). That's many many billions of bucks worth of subsidies, maybe 100's of billions. The cellular phone spectrum monopolies are at least creating revenue, but the broadcast garbage is supposedly a public service.

    Shut down broadcast TV completely, I mean all of it, have one govt-operated channel for emergency info but have it show weather reports and/or CSPAN 24/7 unless an actual emergency is taking place. Turn the rest of the spectrum over to low-power unlicensed use (like wifi). If companies want to show cheesy sitcoms, use the internet. And adjust the copyright system to stay out of people's private noncommercial communications, but to clamp down on companies (that means Google, Facebook, etc) cashing in on incidental noncommercial publishing (that means stuff like slashdot comments, that are essentially ephemeral and conversational in nature, but get vacuumed and monetized by 3rd parties who had nothing to do with producing them).

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:15AM (#29934729) Journal

      >>>The broadcast spectrum monopolies that CBS,NBC,ABC don't pay a cent for

      False. I wish people would stop repeating this oft-stated lie. The ~2000 TV stations plus ~10,000 lowpower/clear air neighborhood stations all pay a lease for their spectrum (called a license fee).

      >>>plus the entire copyright system

      On this we agree. The original version in the 1790 Act was reasonable - 14 years of monopoly helped the authors stand on their own feet and earn money from their labor. Today's 105-year span is ridiculous. It's like creating a welfare state where an author pen a best-seller in his 20s, and then sit on his ass for the rest of his life, signing books, and collecting the residuals. (cough J.K.Rowlings). The rest of us poor slobs have to work 'til we're 70 or 80.

      14 years plus a possibility for renewal (28 years total) is long enough.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ironsides (739422)

        False. I wish people would stop repeating this oft-stated lie. The ~2000 TV stations plus ~10,000 lowpower/clear air neighborhood stations all pay a lease for their spectrum (called a license fee).

        Can you provide some evidence of this? I can find application fees, but not spectrum license fees for the TV stations.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The fees paid to the FCC seem to be meant to reflect the cost of processing the application and performing the FCC's regulatory duties. Not a word about paying to use the spectrum itself. [src [fcc.gov]]

    • Hold on, I just noticed this:

      >>>Shut down broadcast TV completely, I mean all of it

      I like my free television, thank you very much. Including the subchannels I am able to get 40 different programs at any time of the day. Why should I give that up for some inferior slow, interference-prone, overloaded, non-HD Wifi connection? I do watch some steaming television via the net, but don't particularly like it. It's poor sub-standard definition VHS-level quality and prone to sudd

    • by jadavis (473492)

      Shut down broadcast TV completely

      There's already an "off" button on your TV set.

      But that's not good enough for you, you want to stifle information and entertainment across the nation just because you don't like it when other people make money. How does them making money hurt you any more than your neighbor getting a cow?

      People like you are why the founders of this country felt the need for a written Bill of Rights.

  • If you take their money, they get power over you. Sorry but it's true to at least some degree. It might be all above board for a while, but eventually some if not all are bound to get comfortable working for the government, and they wouldn't want to rock the boat once that happens. If they were the sort of people to be completely honest anyway, they would also have trouble working for the current, highly political, news landscape.

    Huh, so maybe things wouldn't be that different after all.

  • corporate welfare (Score:5, Insightful)

    by el_gato_borracho (1218808) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:36AM (#29934481)
    I'm sure the constant threat of their government funding being cut would NEVER affect their critical coverage of said government.
    • by khallow (566160) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:23AM (#29934779)
      And the presence of government funding would provide a convenient cutoff point for who is considered a journalist and who isn't. If you're not receiving the government subsidy, then you're not a real journalist and hence, aren't allowed in the press-only areas or to receive the other privileges extended to real journalists.
    • by jadavis (473492)

      I'm sure the constant threat of their government funding being cut would NEVER affect their critical coverage of said government.

      Nor their coverage of bills to increase or decrease subsidies, of course.

  • by Scareduck (177470) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:36AM (#29934483) Homepage Journal
    a state-run media is exactly what they're calling for. Craven fools.
  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:40AM (#29934507) Homepage

    Am I the only person who is slightly appalled by saving a "medium"? I mean, fuck, why don't we just bailout the papyrus manufacturers while we're at it?

    Obviously it's time to bail out Polaroid, or else there won't be any quality pictures ever taken ever again!!

    Journalism will thrive. It will go back to its roots: pamphleteers. The idea of the monolithic newspaper journalistic elite is a product of a brief period during which corporations controlled the best distribution channels. Now they don't. Bloggers do. And journalism will be the better to show for it.

  • On The Media [onthemedia.org] has pretty good coverage in their October 30'th episode, which you can download as an .mp3.

  • Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:51AM (#29934583) Homepage Journal
    A solution journalists would have scoffed at a few years ago? Given that more of them are left-leaning Democrats than any other specific political orientation, why would journalists have opposed government subsidy?

    Look, these guys claim that the job of journalism is to "question, analyze and speak truth to power". What a weaselly bunch of crap. They'll cover up anything for people they like (and that crosses the political spectrum). They even quote Obama as saying "Government without a tough and vibrant media is not an option for the United States of America." This is the same guy whose administration says that Fox News isn't a real news organization, mostly because a lot of its shows spend their time attacking him and his policies - i.e., being tough and vibrant. If you disagree with my politics, then imagine if instead of the Republican kabuki of not financially supporting information about abortion in worldwide birth control efforts were suddenly to apply to domestic newspapers the next time the political tide turns. Do you think that's good for democracy?

    They then cite the historical example of some printing and postal subsidies (presumably similar to the current subsidies for books and other media via mail) and then suggest we should honor that by "greatly expand[ing] funding for public and community media, and establish[ing] policies that help convert dying daily newspapers into post-corporate low-profit news operations that realize the potential of the Internet." Do I get to qualify for "public and community" funding if I add a couple of news items to my posts about how home sales are doing in my neighborhood? (They're fine, FWIW.) Because otherwise it sounds suspiciously like how "community" funding keeps getting distributed via the same few organizations - the ones with the connections get solid government funding, and in return they toe the line.

    I like newspapers. I enjoy sitting down on Sunday morning and slowly making my way through the whole thing. So, apparently, does the president. But making public policy based on the Sunday morning habits of the upper middle class is wasteful snobbery. They're dead. Move on. And if you're a journalism major, strongly consider switching.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jo_ham (604554)

      Fox News isn't a real news organisation not because it is right wing, but because it doesn't really care about actual truth, it just broadcasts whatever it likes regardless of the facts.

      There are plenty of right wing news organisations that are critical of the Obama administration and the left in general that haven't been classified as "not news".

      Faux News is a special case.

      The BBC is a good example of a "state funded" news outlet. Not beholden to advertising, and managed by a trust (not the government) whi

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160)

        Fox News isn't a real news organisation not because it is right wing, but because it doesn't really care about actual truth, it just broadcasts whatever it likes regardless of the facts.

        And how does that not make Fox News a news organization? Heavy bias is a common component of news organizations. Especially since what "it likes" to broadcast is often true?

      • They all choose which 'facts' to report.

        When Fox news get caught fabricating documents in MS word then they will be equal.

        Fox is at least as trustworthy as any of them (which is to say not at all).

      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jadavis (473492) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @01:28PM (#29935575)

        but because [FNC] doesn't really care about actual truth

        News outlets should also be judged by the stories they run that other news outlets ignore, like corruption in Acorn, Van Jones, etc.

        If your news outlets aren't reporting these things, maybe you should include FNC so that you get all of the relevant information? I'm sure if FNC gets anything wrong, it will be debunked by various FNC critics, so you won't be misinformed.

        The BBC is a good example

        Everyone uses the BBC as a good example. But we're afraid of the bad examples.

      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @01:44PM (#29935667) Journal

        >>>[DNC-NBC] isn't a real news organisation not because it is right wing, but because it doesn't really care about actual truth, it just broadcasts whatever it likes regardless of the facts.
        >>>

        Fixed. After all it was MS-NBC that showed a man toting a rifle at a presidential protest and had their reporters wax eloquently about "white racists who fear having a black president" for 5 solid minutes.

        Turns-out the video was creatively-edited. The rifle-carrying protester was black. MSNBC was guilty of reporting fake news, altering video, instilling fear amongst blacks, hate speech about whites ("racists"), and creating propaganda. And the rifle-guy was actually a black man! - link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYKQJ4-N7LI [youtube.com]

        Unbelievable.

    • And if you're a journalism major, strongly consider switching.

      If anything, current media sorely lacks qualified and educated journalists.
      You know... people who actually studied ethics, writing, reporting, investigating etc.

      Not people who climbed the social/corporate ladder based on the whiteness of their teeth and strength of their elbows (and/or knees).
      Nor the people who believe that the Twitter is a viable tool for journalist reports or even an article or debate.

      • A J student reading /. would be rare thing indeed.

        But I bet they would still report perpetual motion as straight news.

        The problem is J schools are doing an fucking awful job of preparing journalists to report on technical subjects.

        It has often been observed that technical people, who take substantial humanities course work, are criticized as 'not well rounded' students, but students of the humanities, who typically take no non-remedial math or science in college, are considered well rounded.

        Add a r

  • Government bailouts for private media companies would be a bad idea, similar to the unwise nature of subsidising private insurance companies. We are simply funding a biased source of information controlled by plutocratic media instutions with conflicts of interest.

    Immediately when anyone mentioned public funding of a media institution, however, they assume immediately that would be a state run media that would propogate governments version of the story.

    This is not the way it has to be set up. We could have

    • This is not the way it has to be set up. We could have a completely independnat source of news and information that was funded not by congress but directly from tax revenue

      The tax rates would be set by Congress. And could be changed at will.

      Which would, sooner or later, make the "independent news source" obliged to favour the views of the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, if no-one else. And for practical purposes, it would have to favour the dominant Party at any given time, since you need votes

  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @10:54AM (#29934607) Homepage
    There is a crisis for journalists as a result of the sudden crash in their industry but that crash isn't the result of some horrible failure of the market for journalism. Just the opposite. The newspaper industry has hit bottom because the internet has made the buisness of reporting so much more efficient. I mean just thinking about the huge number of daily papers across the states carrying the same national and international news on print is enough to make one sick at the waste. Not only does it cost a great deal to publish a print daily but each of these dailies employs editors and layout people to format the same news availible anywhere in their particular style. Many of them even insist on hiring their own reporters even when it's obviously duplicated effort (say reviewing national movies/TV shows).

    Once competition drives most local papers to focus on local intersts and everyone to publish online it will free up a quite substantial amount of money for real reporting. Though actually a lot of what journalists call real reporting is duplicated effort for the sake of status. I mean does it really help the public understand what's going on better to have 40+ journalists at the white house press briefings and who knows how much AV equitment? If they just sent over a single camera crew and agreed on a way to pick questions there would be no harm to the quality of reporting. Much of this is just done because historically that behavior signaled prestige and seriousness in the news industry.

    I don't think the newspapers are doing anything wrong. But when technology lets you accomplish the same job with disruptively less total effort (delivering news to the nation) many people are going to lose their jobs and most of the companies in that industry will go out of buisness. I feel sorry for the people with careers in the industry but I think there is every reason to believe that after things settle down there will be just as much investigative reporting and important journalism. There will just be less redundancy and a more efficient use of reporting resources.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Pope Jimbo (1023563)
      In the very near past, newspapers were making profit margins of 30%, today they are still making margins of 10%. The problem isn't that they are unprofitable (they are more profitable than health insurance companies - 6%), it is that they over extended themselves when times were good. http://online.barrons.com/article_email/SB125633654783004637-lMyQjAxMDI5NTI2NDMyMzQ2Wj.html?page=sp [barrons.com] Yes, they will have to update their business model to reflect the realities of the digital world, but most of their woes ar
    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:36AM (#29934873) Journal

      I think the problem is just the opposite, in that they are doing EVERYTHING wrong, because they are still trying to print the same paper they did in 1965, when if you missed the 6 'o clock news you were SOL. The reason I gave up on the local and state papers were the ONLY actual local and state stories were bake sales, who died, which little league team won the local game. That's it. No hard hitting questions, no looking into local or state grafts and corruption, just local "fluffy kitten" stories and the same old AP crap spewed with a hard spin on top to try to make it look like it wasn't a straight copypasta.

      I just don't know if they CAN recover, or if they have been so infected with the "too big to fail" mentality, where they think they can just keep churning out the same tired old crap, "maximizing profit potential" by only keeping a few 'reporters" around to add spin and retype press releases, and generally acting the same as when LBJ was president. I bet if you took any of the failing papers and switched them for any of the other failing papers, frankly the readers wouldn't notice.

      So I don't know whether the Internet bloggers can take up where they left off, but frankly the "reporting" done by the state and local papers I have read is simply worthless, and is therefor failing because its readers recognize it to be lousy. They simply don't report from what I have seen, at least around here, they just regurgitate and spin. With all the talk about how much we "need" a free press, if this is the sort of free press they are talking about frankly they can keep it.

  • I can't help but thinking the problem with journalism, like anything else, is the overhead. Sure we all know that for most people the primary reason to have a business is to rake in the profits and have a high rise building,a chauffeured towncar, and a private plane. While there is nothing wrong with that, the question we can ask is should the government pay to support such a lifestyle, as it has done in the past.

    Sure everyone says the problem is the cost of health care, and government regulation, and t

    • Buying or leasing a building downtown is cheaper, because of foolish politicians subsidizing the cost. Even in New York City the most-densely populated region in N. America with the highest land costs, a megacorp can often convince the NYC politicians to pay half the cost. Or even sometimes give the land for free!

      Obviously it should not be that way, but it is.

      Corruption runs rampant.

  • Just look around (Score:5, Informative)

    by svirre (39068) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:10AM (#29934685)

    In norway print media is getting significant goverment subsidies. The consequence is that rather than having media which is a watchdog over goverment, they have become a shill of the leftist 'big-goverment' political parties. (Since these are the parties that will guarantee their continued pipe into taxpayer money)

    Every time somone brings up the question of subsidies you can trust that every newspaper will write long editorials why they need to keep getting money.

    Particularly aggravating is the fact that a small selection of newspapers are getting preferential treatment (more money than others). These papers just happen to be the papers that used to be the publishing fronts for four leftist political parties. They claim to be independent of cource, but it won't take much reading to realize just how skewed their presentation really is.

    So just take a look around and you will quickly find good reasons why not to start subsidizing the press.

  • MSNBC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:17AM (#29934739)

    We already have state-run media. They might as well get paid by the government for their services.

  • Papers print what their owners tell them to.

    If a newspaper owner holds a certain view, then that's the line the editorial tone will take. It's a long standing conclusion with "independent" publications and will only transfer into government subsidised publications. If you want state-subsidised newspapers, then expect them to carry stories that show their paymasters in a beneficial light.

    God help you when elections come around.

  • Let them die (Score:4, Insightful)

    by duffbeer703 (177751) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:31AM (#29934841)

    News is alive an well, just not in the traditional, dominant media outlets. We have online blogs and weekly newspapers that are in many cases thriving. In my hometown, a tiny rural weekly called "The Altamont Enterprise" has such a demand for local advertising that they've had to add a second section. 15 years ago, it was a 10 page weekly, now its closer to 50.

    Why the growth? The local newspaper, the Hearst-owned Albany Times-Union doesn't really provide a service to people in the outlying areas of Albany. Even within the area that the traditional paper claims to serve, the editorial practices of the paper marginalize it as a provider of news that people want to hear. Often, you know when important things are going on because they don't appear in the paper.

    When the daily papers die, others will take their place. The only thing missing will be the editorial boards that are typically in cahoots with politicians and business. Keeping them on life support is suppressing the development of new news organizations.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:32AM (#29934855) Homepage

    Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool (or a liar who wants government control).

  • Journalistic Co-Op (Score:2, Interesting)

    by misfit815 (875442)

    I'd buy into one... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_cooperative [wikipedia.org]

  • ...won't lead to government-controlled newspapers like government money for car companies won't lead to government controlled car companies. You'll never see a President firing a CEO of a private company just because that company gets governmen.... err, wait, that actually did happen, didn't it? Never mind.

    Though the Washington Post could accept government money without conflict so long as a Democratic administration was in charge.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I worked for the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Newspaper Agency (DNA) for a number of years. I'd like to share my thoughts on why newspapers companies are failing.

    First, in this era where Content is King, the quality of newspaper content has been declining steadily. Most reporting is little more than regurgitated press releases and wire stories. The original writing is largely confined to the sports section. Reporting quality has been discussed to death so I won't go into details. Suffice to say that m

    • by Skapare (16644)

      I agree about government money. That's too risky. And I'm a supporter of single payer health care, so I'm not some right wing nut.

      Legacy newspapers, if they survive long enough, will eventually see what others are doing and copy off of those that are successful. That, or they will just be replaced by people with a clue who don't hire the crony PHBs.

  • by ErikZ (55491) *

    Yes you called for a state run media.

    Just like angry advertisers can get an objectionable story pulled, so can an angry government. Because they pay you.

  • If end consumers continue to buy less and less of the crap that print media churn out now, as they have done for a decade or so on the news channels, what do you do when "consumers" don't read the "newsloggers" (or whatever you want to call them)?

    How do you fire a reporter once he is on the governement dole and you now have a beaurocrat in charge of "paying" newsloggers or whatever?

    Incestuous is the best word I can think of right now.

  • by lawpoop (604919) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @12:53PM (#29935325) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe the comments that say that government-funded media will be Soviet-style Propaganda machines. Are you people out of your minds? Can anyone here name me one program or reporter more critical of the government than Bill Moyers? His programs get financed by PBS, a government corporation.

    In fact, that's exactly what corporations want you to believe, because public funding will be the only thing that frees journalists from the corporate teat. It will effectively shut down the corporate media oligarchy we have today.

    Are you all slaves for the corporations or whatever organization pays your salaries? Is that the only lens through which you can see the world?
  • by EWAdams (953502) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @12:57PM (#29935355) Homepage

    The BBC is the single best news organization in the world, full stop. Nobody else comes close for global reach and insight. It receives "government" money, i.e. the TV license fee. As a result, it is required by law to be politically neutral, which is one of the best things about it. (So too, is NPR, and if you think NPR is biased, as many conservatives do, it just shows where YOU stand.)

    Because the BBC is government funded it is watched like a hawk by everybody -- the party in power, the party in opposition, the taxpayers' lobby, and so on. It just cut out 20% of its own management thanks to public pressure.

    It's not perfect; there is waste and abuse at times. But it beats the hell out of any American news organization whatsoever.

  • ... newspapers and journalists to start "getting it" and understand how this new media can work to keep the world informed. "get it" number 1 is that the profit model is not going to work the way it used to ... news will no longer be a monopoly affair that allows the newspaper owners to get rich. If they want to get rich they will have to compete and bring in the eyeballs.

  • Where has that been hiding? Where were they during the buildup to the iraq invasion, covering all the WMD non stories, that they were pushing after getting "the real info" from out of the government's lie-hole? Parrots, not journalists, the safe way, no boat rocking, no fact checking. Where was all this "fact checking" going on, the post, the ny times, where? Where has been the useful coverage of the economic situation, where were the *good articles*, with the real skinny, main stream traditional news, regu

  • I Agree, Sort Of (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @02:48PM (#29936117) Homepage

    Did we just call for state-run media? Quite the opposite.

    We seek to renew a rich if largely forgotten legacy of the American free-press tradition, one that speaks directly to today's crisis. The First Amendment necessarily prohibits state censorship, but it does not prevent citizens from using their government to subsidize and spawn independent media.

    Indeed, the post-colonial press system was built on massive postal and printing subsidies. The first generations of Americans never imagined that the market would provide sound or sufficient journalism. The notion was unthinkable. They established enlightened subsidies, which broadened the marketplace of ideas and enhanced and protected core freedoms. Their initiatives were essential to America's progress.

    So, the subsidies were on the infrastructure of free speech, eh?

    Fine; how about this: The government subsidizes the Internent, and to satisfy that "first amendment" thing you mention, they also require net neutrality. For the subsidy side, I propose that the United States government establish and fund some sort of entity for assigned names and numbers that can remove the expense of individual corporations having to develop their own contentious and lawsuit-encumbered system for apportioning such things, and a do the same for a name resolution system of some sort, with root nameservers provisioned largely at government expense. Perhaps the government could even go back in time and invent the system itself.

    Would that be enough of a subsidy and guarantee of freedom of speech? I think it is a pretty solid foundation at the least.

    Now, jerkwad, go forth and take advantage of all that we taxpayers have given ourselves through the creation of the Internet and the continued provision of its core infrastructural metadata. You want to journalize? Good! Be fruitful and journalize. Compete, you putz. And if you think the competition is skewed (and I think it is) perhaps you can start by journalizing about what is wrong with the system, just as the pamphleteers started not by begging for handouts but by invigorating the public furor.

    But stop trying to dip in my pocket, you welfare queen.

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