In a marvelous two-fer, the FDR-loving, Hello Kitty-hating L.A. Times columnist Rosa Brooks announces in her farewell column that A) she's leaving to go work for the Pentagon, and B) we really should bail out newspapers, too!
If the thought of government subsidization of journalism seems novel, it shouldn't. Most other democracies provide far more direct government support for public media than the U.S. does (Canada spends 16 times as much per capita; Britain spends 60 times as much). [...]
Years of foolish policies have left us with a choice: We can bail out journalism, using tax dollars and granting licenses in ways that encourage robust and independent reporting and commentary, or we can watch, wringing our hands, as more and more top journalists are laid off or bail out, leaving us with nothing in our newspapers but ads, entertainment features and crossword puzzles.
Do you know what "most other democracies" also do? They fall far, far short of the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Also–this should be important, given the supposed purposes of the journalism bailout, yes?–"most other democracies" produce journalism far inferior to, and almost infinitely less diverse than, what we enjoy in the U.S. and A. The BBC is a lovely (if expensive) news service, I agree, but 99.9 percent of state-funded media in "most democracies" don't begin to approach the BBC's quality. And though I thoroughly enjoy trashy British tabloids, and wish we could transplant some of their personality, the trustworthiness and thoroughness of the average Fleet Street piece just pales in comparison to articles produced by our admittedly boring mono-dailies. A fact which British newspaper hacks will often be the first to tell you.
The L.A. Times, even after experiencing roughly 47 rounds of staff cutbacks over the last decade or so, still probabaly employs more journalists than any newspaper in Europe, while producing more daily news than all but a few. Strange, how the democracy with some of the least amount of state financing for media has produced some of the most profitable and highest quality journalism companies on the planet for the past century. You want journalism to thrive in these troubled times? Then start your own damned newspaper, or magazine, or website, and start hustling up an audience. Short of that, maybe advocate policies that–quite unlike wealth transfers from me to billionaire media owners–make it easier for other people to start their own damned journalism outlets.
Or you could lobby for corporate welfare and go work for the Pentagon.
Hopefully in the meantime Brooks has been brushing up on the geography of Moscow's doorstep....