I’ve been flagging the MSM newspaper bailout campaign for the last two years (chronology recap here). The clamor for big government to rescue old media has not died now.
The latest? Columbia University president Lee Bollinger doing the Chicken Little routine in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Really:
We have entered a momentous period in the history of the American press. The invention of new communications technologies—especially the Internet—is transforming the human capacity to speak, perhaps as monumentally as the invention of the printing press in the 15th century. This is facilitating the largest and fastest expansion of global economic growth in human history. Free speech and a free press are essential to a dynamic economy.
At the same time, however, the financial viability of the U.S. press has been shaken to its core. The proliferation of communications outlets has fractured the base of advertising and readers. Newsrooms have shrunk dramatically and foreign bureaus have been decimated. My best estimate is that there are presently only a few dozen full-time foreign correspondents from the U.S. covering all of China, despite the critical importance of that nation to our future.
Both the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are undertaking studies of ways to ensure the steep economic decline faced by newspapers and broadcast news does not deprive Americans of the essential information they need as citizens. One idea under consideration is enhanced public funding for journalism.
Bollinger goes on to assert that “trusting the market alone to provide all the news coverage we need would mean venturing into the unknown—a risky proposition with a vital public institution hanging in the balance.” As if life without NPR and PBS would be catastrophic.
Newsalert responds: ” Lee Bollinger makes over a million dollars a year and is a director of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. If Lee Bollinger and his wealthy friends wants to fund investigative research : there’s nothing stopping them.”
As I wrote back in December 2008 in opposition to newspaper moochers:
How “free” can a “free press” be if it is leveraged with government funding? How free would they be to criticize other corporate enterprises seeking local, state, or federal help to keep them afloat in hard times? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? A press beholden to the ruling class – a press that cannot stand on its own two feet and the strength of its products — is a press better off dead.