The Next Threat to Independent Journalism: Using iPad Tax to Fund Failing News Orgs


Earlier this morn we learned of state Sen. Bruce Patterson who wants to license journalists in Michigan, thus pushing the Wolverine State boldly into, what the 17th century?

Now via Reuters' Jim Pethokoukis comes word of a

"staff discussion draft" from the Federal Trade Commission recommends ways the government can save journalism.  First, it lists a number of ways Washington can subsidize the media (to the tune of $35 billion a year):

– Establish a "journalism" division of AmeriCorps.

– Increase funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

– Establish a National Fund for Local News.

– Provide a tax credit to news organizations for every journalist they employ.

– Establish Citizenship News Vouchers (lets you direct money from tax return).

This sort of crap would be paid for with a slew of taxes on just about everything related to spectrum, broadband, and consumer electronics (which BuzzMachinist Jeff Jarvis has dubbed the "iPad tax").

Read more here.

Here's hoping this incredibly retarded idea goes over about as well as the new Jon Meacham-improved Newsweek.

NEXT: Gulf Oil Crisis: Case for Government, or For Freer Markets?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Blatant violation of the First. I don’t have to pay for some one elses speech.

    1. ^
      ‘———– This is your brain on drugs.

  2. it’s beyond stupid. the suggestion to tax advertising and take away the deductibility of advertising expenses helps news outlets how?

    1. In addition, they suggest that changing the tax write-off of all advertising as a business expense in a single year to a write-off over a 5-year period would generate an additional $2 billion per year.

      nope. no flaw in that logic.

      1. That’s utterly stupid. Of course, it fits right in with Congressional math. Only next year matters, not 4 years down the road.

  3. The best “Citizenship Voucher of Whatever” is simply not taking that money. That gives citizens the most freedom of “directing” it – be it into newspapers, booze or whatever.

    1. But those so-called “citizens” might direct it to the wrong things! You can see the problem there.

  4. Of course journalists are professionals and would never biased against a party or politician who wanted to end their subsidies. And government officials are always benign. They would never use subsidies as a way to punish and reward journalists on the basis of how positive their coverage is of the government.

    My God people are stupid. This is just setting up a real state run media.

    1. Should we begin cloning Clarence Thomas’s brain and sticking it in the other justices bodies now?

      1. No, we should have started that process a good 10 years ago.

      2. I’m cool with that, as long as the clones can be cured of his strange Advil animosity.

  5. So the idea is to tax new, effective technology to subsidise old, shitty technology. Brilliant.

  6. Journalism is moving through a significant transition in which business models are crumbling, innovative new forms of journalism are emerging, and consumer news habits are changing rapidly.

    So the government has to do something? What the ever loving fuck is wrong with these goddam people?

    I know, I know. They’re government bureaucrats who see government bureaucracy as the solution to everything, whether it is a problem or not.

    1. Let me add it’s not Newsweek, WaPo or CBS news who’s recording cops kicking the shit out of citizens and getting the word out.

      1. True, but they did expose that dangerous Senate candidate’s views on the Civil Rights Act, so it’s not like they don’t perform a valuable public service.


  7. Rue McClanahan died. Betty White is the last Golden Girl.

    1. Now thats journalism!
      Which makes you a journalist! Collect your stipend!!!!

      elephants are big…and gray!
      Hoo Ha – I get a stipend too! Also, the number of exclamation points used is a good objective standard for the news worthiness (aka spongeworthyness) of the thing…er, news item!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      2,000 stipends for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Bea Arthur’s dick will live forever…

      1. I wouldn’t fuck Bea Arthur with Elena Kagan’s dick.

    3. Damn, there goes my Golden Girls pool.

  8. So the idea is to tax new, effective technology to subsidise old, shitty technology.

    Not exactly. When new and effective get old and shitty, they’ll get subsidized, too, because by then they’ll have learned to do as they’re told. A subsidy is a reward for obedience. Shitty oldness alone gets nothing.

    1. I want to be subsidized as the Town Crier.

  9. Stuff like this almost makes one think that the Big American Crash can’t come soon enough–while there are still a handful of civil liberties left.

  10. PJ O’Rourke had this excellent point in his recent column

    No industry in living memory has collapsed faster than daily print journalism. You can still buy a buggy whip, which is more than can be said for a copy of the Rocky Mountain News, Cincinnati Post, or Seattle Post-Intelligencer. One would think that a business in such dire condition would be?for desperation’s sake?wildly innovative. But newspapers exhibit a fossilization of form and content that’s been preserved in sedimentary rock since the early 1970s when the “Women’s Pages” were converted to the “Leisure Section.” General Motors itself showed more inventive originality on its way to Chapter 11, as the two people who bought Pontiac Azteks can attest.

    Then PJ went on to wish death on several liberals in a way that can only be classified as bizarre if not entertaining, by proposing newspapers run “pre-obits”.

    Whether you agree with him or not, it makes for an interesting read, and this type of journalism were it a regular feature would do much to spur sales.

    1. I like this one

      John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was, in and of himself, a bad person. He taught economics at Harvard, served in FDR’s Office of Price Administration, was chairman of Americans for Democratic Action, and, after 97 years of comfort and achievement in a free market society, still believed that a free market society is wrong. Maybe it is, if it provides comfort and achievement to John Kenneth Galbraiths. There’s a special stove-top perch in the kitchen corner of hell for witty, urbane, prosperous, and celebrated leftists. It would have been nice to tell John about it before he took his seat.

      1. The article has its harsh moments but damn if it isn’t entertaining.

        1. The Ted Kennedy one is pretty spot on.

    2. Thanks for this! I’ve been wondering where PJ’s been!

    3. You can still buy a buggy whip, which is more than can be said for a copy of the Rocky Mountain News, Cincinnati Post, or Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

      I bet there are a lot of brands of buggy whips that you can’t buy anymore.

      The correct analogy would be buggy whips vs. newspapers in general, not buggy whips vs. Cincinnati Star.

      1. Holy shit, do you really have that big of a stick up your ass? I bet you’re the life of the party, huh? One of those guys that points out why someones joke doesn’t work because “well technically speaking, the correct blah blah blah.”

        Anyway, your point might make sense if the writer was really comparing newspapers and buggy whips in a substantive manner rather than just being facetious.

  11. My wife loves the local newspaper. It’s not a good paper, but it is a soothing ritual for her to read it in the morning with her tea.

    When they decided to stop delivering the paper to our doorstep–instead dumping it at the end of our driveway–she tried it for a few days, but having to put on enough clothes to tromp to the end of the driveway disrupted her morning ritual, so she called to cancel the paper.

    The costumer service rep on the other end couldn’t understand why she wanted to drop the paper. She explained it a few times. Finally the semi-belligerent woman, asked “What, are you crippled or something? We could bring it to the door if you were crippled.”

    And they wonder why they are going out of business.

    1. but having to put on enough clothes to tromp to the end of the driveway disrupted her morning ritual

      Little does she know, Saccharin Man, that it was you that requested that they do that. It was part of your elaborate plan to get morning nookie. You resented that morning paper. Didn’t you. DIDN’T YOU?!

      You are a selfish and deceitful husband, Saccharin Man. You sicken me.

        1. SF, why didn’t you walk to the end of the driveway?

          1. Because I hate her addiction to an archaic form of news delivery. The entire daily content is on the web. She has a web-phone, 2 laptops, an iPad, and a desktop at work.

    2. Cus-too-merh Cur-vis? Me not understand big talky words in job description.

      For kicks, your wife should have come back with “As a matter of fact, I am crippled, and I’d like to speak to your manager please.”

      Drop the crap-rag and get one of their incompetent minions fired in one fell swoop. mmmmmm

      1. On the other hand, it’s probably more destructive to the Paper if they keep that piece of shit on staff.

    3. In metro Detroit, they’ve only been delivering the paper three days a week. They decided that 7 day a week delivery cost too much, so if you want it the other 4 days, go find a box. Took them awhile to realize that making it harder for people to get your paper is not a good way to increase circulation. (Expecially when a lot of customers, like your wife, have gotten into the habit of reading the paper before they get dressed.) Sounds like a government-run operation already.

    4. If you’re losing customers because your product isn’t worth putting clothes on for, your business model might be a bit flawed.

      1. Eh, by that logic, I wouldn’t be reading Reason, either. I subscribe, but if you’re going to make me hunt down a newsstand that actually carries it…

  12. I really don’t like use of the word ‘retarded,’ but there just isn’t any other word that fits here.

    1. There is the phrase “mentally deficient”, if that works for you.

      1. Bureaucratic?

  13. What, no defense of this from our reliable defenders of the Obama administration, Tony, Chad, and Dan T.? Surely they can explain to us why these are good ideas.

    1. The troll infestation only seems to show up on threads involving Rand Paul and the CRA.

      1. I have yet to see any of them defend Obamacare on any of those threads either, John. I have called them out.

        1. We’re just giving you the silent treatment, medical mercenary. I shouldn’t even be telling you this…if Chad found out he’d … neeeeeuuuuurrrghgghghghg

  14. “staff discussion draft” from the Federal Trade Commission recommends ways the government can save journalism

    Why the fuck are they even thinking about stuff like this?

  15. Can’t they just throw a few bills to Old Media to make videos and write articles about “How regulation is important”?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.