Posted by Victoria Reynolds | Posted in blogs, mainstream media | Posted on 29-12-2007
Earlier this week a colleague told me the government was planning to subsidize the purchase of television sets. I scoffed, thinking that’s something the government surely would never do, and anyway, why not subsidize books?
Turns out my colleague was right, as evidenced by this government-issue $40 coupon to purchase digital TV.
Think that’s the extent of the government bailing out dinosaur media? Think again.
Check out Wall Street Journal editor Paul Steiger’s farewell column on the media in the weekend WSJ (click here, password required).
A fascinating — and stunning — tidbit:
… the vast array of investigative reporting and foreign correspondence assembled at American newspapers over the past several decades is being cut back at all but a few publications, as papers succumb to the pressure to cut costs.
Many journalists and academics see in these cutbacks a threat to the democratic ideal of a well-informed public. Some urge turning to philanthropy or an expansion of public television as a way to fill the gap. Others have begun to argue for a government subsidy for newspapers — an unlikely prospect for now.
“Unlikely” aside, the fact that a government subsidy of newspapers is being considered at all is quite alarming, on two fronts: 1) Must the government solve everything? Homer Simpson put it best, in another context: “Donuts, is there anything they can’t do?” Likewise: government, is there anything it can’t subsidize? And (2) If a form of media is dying, let it fail on its own accord. It’s called the free market. Heck, one day I’m sure blogging will decline in popularity. Let’s hope that when that happens, no one calls for a government subsidy of blogging. Although truth be told, if the feds will be handing out money to blog, you better believe I’ll be first in line. But really hating it.