Economics

Newspaper Bailout and Journalist/Obama Administration Revolving-Door Watch

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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.

We can do it!

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….

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  1. “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.”

    You must be one of the few writers that takes his own advice. Prognosis was a fine newspaper, by the way.

  2. I’m a bit confused by the argument for subsidizing a format that even supporters admit no one wants to read. Even if that makes you sad — that sentiment I at least understand — what’s the point in producing a perfect, unadulterated-by-evil-profit newspaper if no one reads it? Who’s the beneficiary?

  3. Also, Obama stole Kal Penn from House. This I do not forgive, especially while Thirteen and Foreman still live.

  4. The the heck is a newspaper?

  5. “Rosa Brooks”

    Shittiest columnist ever.

  6. Years of foolish policies have left us with a choice: We can bail out journalism….or we can watch, wringing our hands, as more and more top journalists are laid off…

    Who exactly is responsible for the “years of foolish policies”? The public whose money is to be confiscated to prop up failing businesses, or the people who managed the failing businesses that need propping up?

    If this woman is the kind of journalist that is supposed to be on the verge of disappearing, I say good riddance.

  7. We can bail out journalism … more and more top journalists are laid off or bail out

    Someone’s got a favorite phrase, hasn’t she? Even if that was intentional, it sounds like shit. No wonder she needs a bail out.

  8. Hopefully in the meantime Brooks has been brushing up on the geography of Moscow’s doorstep….

    I clicked the link and skimmed the article (RTFA previously) but I still don’t get it. Somebody ‘splain?

  9. “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”

    amen, brother!

  10. “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.”

    Fuck that! Give me some money, you rubes!

  11. Advertisements, sudoku puzzles and death notices (to make sure one is not listed there) may be the only worthwhile parts of newspapers that have been printing the columns of Rosa Brooks.

  12. …granting licenses in ways that encourage robust and independent reporting and commentary…

    OMFG. What do you say to that? Does this woman have any sense of history?

  13. “What do you say to that?”
    You give thanks to the great god Mencken that she’s out of the newspaper biz, hopefully for good.

  14. It is damn hard explaining stuff to you libertarians. Isn’t it just obvious that the way to make journalism “robust” is to reward journalistic enterprises that screw up, and the way to make journalism “independent” is to make journalists rely on government funds and licenses?

  15. The BBC is a lovely (if expensive) news service, I agree

    Matt Welch exposes himself as the Labor Party plant in the Cosmotarian movement!

    Pitchforks and torches at the ready gang. We are marching to Dupont Circle at dusk.

  16. We can bail out journalism, using tax dollars and granting licenses in ways that encourage robust and independent reporting and commentary…

    Because othing says independence like a robust bailout from Uncle Sam. The fact that someone this stupid is going to work for the Pentagon is very alarming.

  17. God damn. That column was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of goddamned stupid things the past few decades.
    I mean, fuck. Just fuck.

    Jesus.

    Fuck.

    Fuck-didly-uk.

    Christ.

  18. I don’t see the Wall Street Journal askin’ for no handouts. Some papers are still able to provide something that people will pay plenty for.

  19. Who’s the beneficiary?

    Wild swing here: The people who get the money and the people who decide who gets the money.

  20. BTW, did I mention I can lick my own withered taint?

  21. I dunno . . . it might be good for the Pentagon to have a representative from the Retardo-Americans to bounce ideas off of.

  22. Matt, you should look north of the border for quality public news broadcasting. The CBC produces it on a shoestring budget compared with it’s private US counterparts. Let me assure you, interviewers like Larry King (and others) wouldn’t survive up here because we have journalists who know how to ask tough but fair questions in a nonconfrontational way and investigative reporters who can do their jobs. Remember the performance of the US media in the runup to the Iraq war? Fox News is available here, but mainly for its satirical value.

  23. The reason newspapers are fucked is because the internet exposed the fact that most of their content is a scam.

    Why on Earth would anyone think that having major dailies in every city would make sense now that the internet has revealed that their product basically consists of pasting a city-specific masthead over AP copy, syndicated columnists, syndicated comics, and MAYBE some pieces from sportswriters they employ directly?

  24. The BBC is a lovely (if expensive) news service, I agree

    Matt Welch exposes himself as the Labor Party plant in the Cosmotarian movement!

    Pitchforks and torches at the ready gang. We are marching to Dupont Circle at dusk.

    Indeed, the BBC’s coverage of UK politics is un-fucking-believably biased. Their original content is mostly incompetent, lowest common denominator shit. There is absolutely no reason for them to exist.

  25. What does Larry King have to do with journalism?

  26. Yo, fuck Rosa Brooks.

  27. Local newspapers matter. The whole Kwame perjury coverup thingee here was agreed to by Kwame’s and the cops’ (who brought a whistlblower lawsuit against him) lawyers. One of the local rags brought it to light. I could mention lots of other issues here in Motown that are not covered by the national media but the same sort of thing happens in your towm.

    That has not one goddam thing to do with government (read taxpayers) finacially supporting them. Local news reporting is not going to disappear, there’s a market for it. What form it eventually takes doesn’t matter, it ain’t going away.

    How often have you read these pundits write that the feds telling GM or AIG how to do business is kosher because the government is paying the bills?

    Fucking morons haven’t figured out that “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. To those who would trafe their independence for government handouts I say, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  28. I just looked up Rosa Brooks on wikipedia.

    She is Barbara Ehrenreich’s daughter (no surprise there). What IS surprising is that she has a bachelor’s from Harvard, master’s from Oxford, and a JD from Yale.

    Now, I’ll admit that someone with the first two degrees from the first two schools could still be, shall we say, a chowderhead. But I really have trouble grasping how someone smart enough to get into Yale Law could write such dumb stuff.

    (She’s also a law professor at Georgetown.)

  29. To those who would trafe their independence for government handouts I say, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    May posterity forget ye were ever our coworkers?

  30. Rosa Brooks: GIMME GIMME GIMME!

  31. I really have trouble grasping how someone smart enough to get into Yale Law could write such dumb stuff.

    Competence in completing coursework for a degree doesn’t mean that someone must have a basic grasp of economics or morality.

    -jcr

  32. Matt, you should look north of the border for quality public news broadcasting.

    That was a joke, right?

    That’s not to suggest we have generally high quality private news broadcasting here either (I suffer no such delusion), but the CBC has the quality of coverage of CNN without the graphics, personalities, or potentially interesting subject matter. The fact that it’s dry doesn’t automatically make it thorough or thoughtful. It’s rarely either (although that hour-long discussion on Newsworld over whether or not to leave the front door open while waiting for the PM to get out of a meeting with the GG was admittedly stirring).

    Disclosure: CBC is my competition and my other half’s employer. Feel free to accuse me of a bias for or against it, whichever best suits any particular argument.

  33. “We can bail out journalism, using tax dollars and granting licenses in ways that encourage robust and independent reporting and commentary,…”

    Journalism funded by tax dollars cannot, by definition, be independent. Journalists supported by the government would be at best museum exhibits. They would exist in name as what they were but would only be going through the motions of what their culture and function was. At worst, they would be a Ministry of Truth.

  34. I’m sure the Soviet Union had some exceptional news services. I saw a Stossel piece in the 80’s on the A1 service you can expect in Soviet food establishments(have it VHS – just need to buy a capture device). We shouldn’t be so arrogant in thinking our big corporate media is so superior.

  35. J sub D — I don’t know if I agree that there’s a market for local news reporting. I’m a very avid consumer of news, and I read my local paper cover-to-cover, but the reason I buy the paper is for the sports section.

    In 10 years I think that there still will be people who investigate and expose corruption in various local governments, but I don’t think those people will be the local reporters, because I doubt that there will be too many of those left. Instead, the “whistleblowers” are more likely to be local gadflies with OCD or too much time on their hands, who will publish via the Internet to a limited regular audience. My guess is that they’ll do a better job than the current reporters do.

  36. I was glad when I read Rosa Brooks will no longer be spreading her bile in the L.A. Times. Then I became depressed that this ignoramus will now be spreading her moronic bile, in private, at the Pentagon. She has no military knowledge or experience, and this idiot is going to inform our nation’s defense? We’re doomed.

  37. I really have trouble grasping how someone smart enough to get into Yale Law could write such dumb stuff.

    Have you been paying any attention to our Secretary of State lately?

  38. 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

    Get thee the fuck out of my face with this Nazi bullshit. Grant government reporting licenses? Oh, no journalistic opinions will be informed by a government bureaucracy with the power to grant or revoke your license based on your reporting.

  39. A fact which British newspaper hacks will often be the first to tell you.

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