Media

Now Playing at Reason.tv: All the President's Newsmen

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With the proliferation of news on the Internet, Americans aren't supporting their local newspapers. Circulation and ad revenues are way down, while web readership—where the news is likely to be free and up-to-the-minute—is way up. Technology has changed the game. But for those who see a connection between American democracy and the demise of the newspaper industry, it's time to get the government involved to save the news business.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced the Newspaper Revitalization Act, a bill that would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) warns of the "serious consequences for our democracy" if his hometown paper, The Boston Globe, goes belly up. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has publicly argued for an antitrust exemption to save the San Francisco Chronicle, a paper that has long supported her political career. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)  recently argued that "If Congress does not act…a major city in the United States will be without a newspaper in the fairly near future."

Washington can give newspapers tax breaks or generous subsides to keep them afloat. There are many ways of extending the life of a terminally-ill by forcing onto life support. But why should the government support an industry that consumers are rejecting?

"Most of those supporting a newspaper bailout were also critical of the media's behavior in the run-up to the Iraq War," says Reason senior editor Michael Moynihan. "Now imagine the reaction if the very same journalists wrote the very same stories about Iraq in 2002 but were reliant upon the Bush administration for their survival."

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For a YouTube version of this video, go here.

Correction: The amount of proposed French subsidies for newspaper is misstated. The correct figure is $800 million.

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  1. And once the newspapers transform themselves into print versions of PBS, the next step will be to create a Corporation for Public Journalism to funnel big federal bucks to those papers. Fortunately, people will read the subsidized press any more than they read papers now, but the subsidy will still be a deadweight loss to the economy.

  2. This Congress would have propped up the buggy whip industry as “necessary for safety and/or security of Americans”. Why wouldn’t they bailout an industry that continues to lavish positive attention on them?

  3. They already act like a state run media. What I can’t figure out is why BO and company would pay for something they are getting for free.

  4. Yo, fuck Ben Cardin, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and Hank Johnson.

    “…a major city in the United States will be without a newspaper in the fairly near future.”

    Feature, not bug.

  5. That was a great video. Just wondering why didn’t you guys call the freepress tools out on their past views of newspaper.

  6. Q:What I can’t figure out is why BO and company would pay for something they are getting for free.

    A: 2012

  7. Good vid, but like the commenters above, you should have made those fuckfaces from “freepress” look even stupider by just hammering them with questions.

  8. To separate themselves from their moneygrubbing past, I suggest our new governmental newspapers rebrand, change their names. Perhaps something to reflect their new commitment to journalistic integrity and accuracy. “Truth”, perhaps. But why stop there? We’re a multicultural society. And goodness knows that our Russian communities don’t get much in the way of recognition. Perhaps we could name the newspapers by using the Russian translation of this name, Pravda. Or perhaps our newspapers want to project an image of wholesomeness and old-fashioned virtue. Perhaps they might choose to name themselves after everyone’s most trusted relative, Granma.

  9. The oldline media is committing suicide for Obama. Victor Davis Hanson makes a good point today. He says people will tolerate media bias when it is done against the majority party in the name of being a watch dog. But it is something different when the media goes from attack dog to compliant sheep in the matter of the 24 hours it takes to innaugurate a new President. For 8 years we heard how military commissions, FISA, rendition, the occupation of Iraq and such were the end of America. Now Obama does all of that and the media shrugs and talks about how practical he is.

  10. Blog commenters need a bailout. Do you know that I type these comments for free? Yet we serve a critical role in preserving American liberty.

  11. For 8 years we heard how military commissions, FISA, rendition, the occupation of Iraq and such were the end of America.

    That is an absolute load of crap, John. For one, most of these things didn’t exist eight years ago. Two, the media was very compliant with the runup to the Iraq invasion. And why did Judith Miller wind up in prison again? Oh, right, to protect the Bush Administration.

  12. Do you know that I type these comments for free?

    For serious? Everybody else here draws a paycheck. Even LoneWacko, though his is in Ameros. You need to get in touch with H&R HR pronto, dude.

  13. “But for those who see a connection between American democracy and the demise of the newspaper industry…”

    Someone seriously needs to challenge the bullshit notion, that we hear over and over again ad nauseum, that newspapers are just so vital to a democracy. Maybe thatcase would be a whole lot more convincing if they weren’t busy worshipping the guy in power and basically acting as the “media wing” of the Democratic Party.

  14. “That is an absolute load of crap, John. For one, most of these things didn’t exist eight years ago. Two, the media was very compliant with the runup to the Iraq invasion. And why did Judith Miller wind up in prison again? Oh, right, to protect the Bush Administration.”

    What do any of the things I listed have to do with Iraq? FISA, warrentless wiretapping, and rendition have nothing to do with Iraq. Further, while the invasion of Iraq may have gotten good press, the occupation sure as hell didn’t. Miller went to jail over the invastion not the occupation. I defy you to come up with when the media, cheered rendition, FISA, and military commissions.

    If you want to argue the point fine. But please pull your head out of your ass and argue the point, not what you imagine it to be.

  15. “That is an absolute load of crap, John. For one, most of these things didn’t exist eight years ago. Two, the media was very compliant with the runup to the Iraq invasion.

    Give me a fucking break. Ok, so they existed five or six years ago. I think you got the fucking point, jackass. And the whole “the media didn’t do enough about Iraq” is a well-worn canard that just happens to be total bullshit as well. Funny, I can’t seem to remember the major newspapers in this country telling us how rock-solid the case for invading Iraq was. And neither can you.

  16. For 8 5 years we heard how military commissions, FISA, rendition, the occupation of Iraq and such were the end of America.

    Better, TAO?

    To be fair, there are a few media outlets complaining about Obama’s continuation of the policies he campaigned against. But, really, I don’t see how anyone can argue that the volume and vituperation haven’t decreased now that we have the Right People in charge.

  17. No, John, I want you point out an editorial from 2001 (Eight years ago) that does the imaginary hair-pulling and shirt-rendering about any of the issues you mentioned.

    you’ve been residing in the Republican echo chamber for too long. I’m embarrassed for anybody who still insists that the “liberal media” is against the poor widdle Republicans. Spare me that nonsense.

    Frankly, yours is a nonfalsifiable premise: any example I show you will be listed as the exception, not the rule. And who is the “media” anyway? you want something from teh NYT, the LAT or what?

  18. Funny, I can’t seem to remember the major newspapers in this country telling us how rock-solid the case for invading Iraq was. And neither can you.

    Please…even the Pentagon admits that it was majorly influencing the media during 2003. Invitations to classified briefings (with the understanding that the quid pro quo would be positive coverage), the NYT explicitly apologizing for its coverage about the WMDs….

  19. “No, John, I want you point out an editorial from 2001 (Eight years ago) that does the imaginary hair-pulling and shirt-rendering about any of the issues you mentioned.”

    AO, you can’t be this stupid. First, pre 9-11 no one even knew or cared about these issues. Second, Bush was excoriated in the media for military commissions, his use of FISA and the NSA use of wiretapping. All of those things continue under OBama without a peep from the media. If you can’t see that, you are either lying or just a moron.

    “Please…even the Pentagon admits that it was majorly influencing the media during 2003. Invitations to classified briefings (with the understanding that the quid pro quo would be positive coverage), the NYT explicitly apologizing for its coverage about the WMDs….”

    When did they do that? But according to AO the media did nothing but cheerlead for Bush. According to him Pinch Salzburger and Dick Cheney conferred daily on the content of the editorial page. Especially after 2004, the media acted as a direct arm of the Democratic Party.

  20. AO,

    Yes, the NY Times a tool of the Republican Neocon conspiriacy. Why don’t you just put a tin foil hat on or go into comedy because that is comedy gold.

  21. web readership – where the news is likely to be free and up-to-the-minute – is way up.

    an industry that consumers are rejecting

    ??

    How are consumers “rejecting” an industry whose product they’re still consuming — to a degree that’s “way up”?

  22. Correction: we can’t force people to read newpapers EVEN IF we give them free subscriptions.

    I have a free “subscription” to my local coupon clipper rag, but I throw it away in the bin between my mailbox and my house.

  23. Yes, the NY Times a tool of the Republican Neocon conspiriacy. Why don’t you just put a tin foil hat on or go into comedy because that is comedy gold.

    Uh, no, the media is just pro-state, regardless of which party occupies the state at the time. But good strawman, John. Again, you’re embarrassing yourself.

  24. The worst thing that could happen to newspapers is to get a bailout. Americans are SICK of bailouts and would turn that anger on their newspapers. Subscriptions would shrink as never before as, unlike what citizens can do about the banks, they can express themselves by canceling their subscriptions. And then when the Republicans get in power, the funding will be the first thing cut and then the newspapers that were depending on it will just collapse.

  25. “absolute load of crap” or a “relative load of crap” you be the judge

  26. Why is there no discussion of the unconstitutionality of proposals for the federal government to have financial involvement with the nation’s newspapers? There is no freedom of the press once the government becomes its funding source. Not that they have much criticism of the Obama Administration, anyhow.

  27. Notice that The Angry Optimist got the conversation where he wanted back on Bush again.

    He completely misses the POINT that his “messiah” is doing what President Bush has constructed based on the advice of numerous experts recommended and it has been approved by the Court and Congress but the same jackass who made fools of themselves are busy blowing Obama too much to notice.

    But you will never convince the likes of The Angry Optimist because he is a freaking loon who thought that a “community organizer” would have a clue about how to be President. He feels like a complete loser for buying the con so cut him some slack.

  28. Why is there no discussion of the unconstitutionality of proposals for the federal government to have financial involvement with the nation’s newspapers?

    I don’t think you understand the mindset.

    To the people making these proposals “the press” can’t possibly be “free” if they’re threatened with bankrupcy. Handing out subsidies is the essence of the First amendment to these folks.

    And sad to say the public favors this view as well.

    Just as they see free medical care as a basic human right.

    Let’s face it, we’ve lost.

  29. Why would Obama want to pay for something he is already getting for free ?

  30. We can fold newspapers into PBS, and rename it Pravda Broadcasting Service.

  31. The press has a long history of servicing Democrats – I guess they feel entitled to a reach-around.

  32. The free market solution to this issue is for regular citizens to do the job the MSM refuses to do by engaging politicians in DebatesAboutPolicy on video and then uploading that to Youtube. In fact, Reason could have a greater impact on policy than many MSM outlets if they went out and asked some questions. Instead, all they and their friends like Instapundit do is keep proving Kos right.

  33. For some reason I read the title as ‘All the President’s Newmens’ and thought of Newman from Seinfield. Lack of sleep will do things like that. “Just remember, when you control the mail (or news in the case of Journalists), you control… information”.

  34. If the newspapers had not alienated 50% of their potential readership, perhaps they would not be in the position that they are now.

  35. that’s a new one – I’ve never been accused of being a Barack Obama supporter. How dare I question the Republicans’ whinging about the media?

    OH NOES YOU MUST LIKE THE PRESIDENT!!!

  36. Of course he will bail them out. They have the goods on him, Birth Certificate, Rezko, Blagovich ties, Gay relationship, his illegal alien family members, banking secret ties with other countries, illegal donations to his campaign…….

  37. The next sad logical step will be to extend additional legal protection to the favored entities, while leaving everyone else in the cold. That way, private civil lawsuits could be used to shut down opposing voices whilst the favored ones have immunity, all with no further direct govt involvement.

    See how easy it is?

  38. If the newspapers had not alienated 50% of their potential readership, perhaps they would not be in the position that they are now.

    Sigh.

    Will somebody please take this meme behind the barn and finally shoot it, for all our sake?

    No, alienating conservatives is not the reason “newspapers” are in their current position. (“Newspapers” is in quotes because it’s unclear what you mean by the word in the first place. Which newspapers? The conservative ones, too? What’s the deal there, exactly — are their troubles wrought by alienating the liberal half of their audience?)

    The news industry is struggling because of the economics of the Internet. Period. Full stop. There is nothing else to figure out. No heart-swelling ideological victory to savor. Stop trying to make something so simple so complicated.

  39. The news industry is struggling because of the economics of the Internet

    Bingo. Things change, and if the newspaper businesses can’t figure out how to change with them, that’s their own problem.

    -jcr

  40. BTW, since nobody else seems to have mentioned this yet: Craig Aaron can go fuck himself.

    -jcr

  41. The Internet has accelerated the media’s decline, but so has their own journalistic bias. Assign relative weights to each factor as you see fit, but neither is insignificant.

  42. The Internet has accelerated the media’s decline, but so has their own journalistic bias.

    Sorry, we have taken that meme behind the barn and shot it. Mercifully, it can no longer be abused by stupid people. Please be respectful and let it rest in peace.

  43. Meme Killers,

    Methinks you doth insist too much.

    Meanwhile, the measurable evidence – the relative ratings and trends of various media outfits, for example, all of whom ride the same technical landscape – confirms the contributory nature of bias to decline.

  44. “you’ve been residing in the Republican echo chamber for too long. I’m embarrassed for anybody who still insists that the “liberal media” is against the poor widdle Republicans. Spare me that nonsense.”

    You have thoroughly proved yourself to be a total fucking jackass with the above comment. I guess all those surveys that are done year after year, the latest memorable one being done by MSNBC which caused a huge uproar because it exposed how its “journalists” voted, that show 89-90% of journalists vote Democrat don’t prove that there is bias, do they? And those surveys done, year after year, where around 2/3s of Americans indicate the media is biased? Those must be bullshit too, right?

    Anyone who claims with a straight face that their is no liberal bias in the media is either a) so far to the left he can’t see it b) hasn’t picked up or read a major newspaper in his entire fucking life c) is a total fucking idiot.

    Christ, where the fuck have you been? I guess you think the nauseatingly deferential and worshipful tone of the media’s coverage of Obama is normal. Or how about the whole “tea bagging” bullshit and the way 350,000 protesters were dismissed as cranks by pretty much every major outlet, and newspaper, except Fox. Those don’t indicate bias at all, do they Mr. Observant? Give me a fucking break. Amazing how dipshits like you have no problem seeing the conservative bias at Fox, but when it comes to the bias that a majority of your fellow Americans can see at the NYT or the Washington Post or any other major metropolitan newspaper, you play dumb. But in your case, it isn’t a fucking act.

  45. Let MiniInfo’s “little eichmanns” all starve to death.

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