Monday, December 8, 2008

Bailout the Journos!

Posted by Teresa at 5:13 PM
Via the NewsBusters. An op-ed piece from The New Republic advocates government
bailing out the downtrodden
news business by bringing back the Federal Writers'
. And believe me the news business is downtrodden. Many of my reader's
know I, myself, have a degree in journalism and have struggled to find a career in
the slowing business. So at first this idea sounded enticing to me. However, I believe
there is an important principle here that is missed in the article. The news media
is often called the Fourth Estate and is needed to keep to checks and balances on
government. There will be an obvious conflict of interest if the government is the
one providing the paycheck for many journalists or news organizations. Plus, our
Constitution says we must have a free press.

A snippet from the article:

Barack Obama sounds like he wants to reach back to the New Deal's
Works Progress Administration to jump start the economy with an
economic stimulus proposal featuring infrastructure repair. If so, it
may be time for the man who would be FDR to take a look at another
successful--but largely forgotten--jobs program from the Depression
era: the Federal Writers Project.

America's newspaper industry has been imploding in the last few years,
a development that predates the Wall Street collapse but has been
hugely accelerated by the economic meltdown, forcing thousands of
journalists onto the street. Hundreds more have now joined them from
retrenching magazines and faltering websites, bringing the year-to-date
total to 14,683 according to the tracking website Paper Cuts. Hundreds
more have now joined them from retrenching magazines and faltering
websites. Every day the journalism clearinghouse Romenesko links to
stories of layoffs and downsizing--Gannett has been cutting 2,000 jobs
across the chain, and Newsday has just announced another five percent
in the last week alone. Any federal effort to put back to work the hundreds
of thousands thrown out of work in the nation's hard-hit industrial,
construction, airline, and financial sectors should consider displaced news
media workers--including those newly laid off from the publishing industry
--as well.

I think the old news media are going to have learn that times are changing. New
media is informing people also. So they are going to have downsize and restructure
themselves for the new reality. They are in the "reality" business, right?
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