Economics

Help Me, Obama-wan-Kenobi, You're Our Newspapers' Only Hope!

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What did I tell you people? I told you people "Mark my words: This will not be the last time you hear about newspaper bailouts. Not if journalists have anything to say about it."

Cue Providence Journal layoffee David Scharfenberg, and his Boston Globe-published proposal "to preserve the sort of journalism that keeps our democracy afloat":

Gladly_pay_Wednesday_for_a_bailout_Tuesday

Congress, intent on jump-starting the economy, should set aside $100 million—well under 1 percent of the stimulus approved by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate—for a national journalism fund.

The cash would seed low-cost, Internet-based news operations in cities large and small—combining vigorous, professional reporting with blogging, video posts, citizen journalism, and aggregation of stories from other sources.

Wait, if it's low cost, why don't some of the same people who believe (wrongly) that print-on-pulp "keeps our democracy afloat" just pony up some of their own cash and get busy?

[A] scattershot approach, dependent upon the largess of a few well-heeled donors and foundations, is no way to tend to a major pillar of our civil society. We need a big, bold investment in the new journalism. And it is hard to imagine anyone other than the federal government providing loads of start-up cash, particularly in the midst of a recession.

Bailout logic really knows no bounds. Those of you non-newspaper journalists out there who care about the First Amendment will be happy to note that Scharfenberg does make the following grudging acknowledgment:

Indeed, an independent press cannot be entirely beholden to government funding.

Ya think?

Link via Romenesko.