Matt Welch and I have both written at some length on the problem of providing state subsidies to the supposedly dying newspaper industry (see here, here, and here), proposed here in America by people like lefty academic Robert McChesney and lefty magazine journalist John Nichols. But while there are those that (rightly) raise the specter of government censorship of politically suspect material, the flipside of this argument—that the state, in an attempt at fairness, will provide financial support to content that many find objectionable—is often ignored. Case in point: The Swedish government, which provides piles of money to its newspaper industry, has just agreed to underwrite a neo-Nazi newspaper run by the deceptively named National Democrat Party. The Local has details:
A newspaper run by Sweden's right-wing extremist National Democrat party has been granted 2.3 million kronor ($319,000) in state press subsidies. The decision was taken on Wednesday by the Press Subsidies Council (Presstödsnämnden), which does not take a newspaper's political views into account when making decisions on state support.
The council ruled that the National Democrats' weekly newspaper, Nationell Idag (National Today), fulfilled the criteria necessary to qualify for operational press subsidies. For example, the council found that the newspaper publishes more than 1,500 copies, is primarily sold to subscribers, and publishes at least 1,000 column metres of editorial material per year.
Nationell Idag was granted 699,583 kronor for August to December last year, as well as 1.679 million kronor for 2010.
This in addition to what I expect are the rather modest profits made selling Holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracy books on the National Democrat Party website. In the latest issue of Nationell Idag (PDF), an editorial writer stressed that "The press subsidy doesn't just mean 1.7 million kroner annually, but it's also provides recognition [to the National Democrats] and legitimacy."
Reason.tv on why state funding of newspapers is a really, really stupid idea: