FTC’s Strange Priorities: Encourage Government-Run Journalism

Mark Tapscott at The Examiner, writing on the FTC’s working paper on “reinventing journalism”:

Journalists must understand that there is no way the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press will survive if the federal government regulates the news industry. Those who accept at face value protests to the contrary or the professions of pure intentions by advocates of government takeover of the news business are, at best, incredibly naive.

Tapscott cites Jeff Jarvis, a veteran newsman/editor who practices and writes insightfully on new media. Jarvis projects the impact of government subsidies on news:

After saluting the history of government subsidies for the press — namely, postal discounts, legal notice publication, assorted tax breaks, and funds for public broadcasting — the agency looks at other ideas: a journalism AmeriCorps paying journalists; increased funding for public broadcasting; a national fund for local news suggested in Columbia’s report on journalism; a tax credit for employing journalists; citizen news vouchers (a la campaign checkoff); grants to universities for reporting. It also looks at increasing the present postal subsidy (which would only further bankrupt the dying postal service in the service of dying publications); using Voice of America and Radio Free Europe content (aka propaganda) in the U.S.; and enabling the SBA to help nonprofits.

One helpful approach that would support such progressive reforms would be establishing financing mechanisms, perhaps by instituting new taxes on the print media clearly identified through stamps affixed on each publication.

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