December 3, 2009

A state-controlled media coming near you

If you ask me, this is a terrible idea. Never has a government-supported media been free and unbiased. It would be very easy for even the highly touted (cough cough) US government to put the brakes on certain investigative stories and journalists if this model were supported.

The newspaper industry is suffering "market failure" and the government will need to help preserve serious journalism essential to democracy, an influential US congressman said Wednesday.

"The newspapers my generation has taken for granted are facing a structural threat to the business model that has sustained them," said Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California.

"The loss of revenue has spurred a vicious cycle with thousands of journalists losing their jobs," he told a meeting on journalism in the Internet age hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Waxman, who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over the FTC, said the "depression in the media sector is not cyclical, it is structural."

"While this has implications for the media it also has implications for democracy," he added. "A vigorous free press and vigorous democracy have been inextricably linked.

"We cannot risk the loss of an informed public and all that means because of this market failure," he said.

Now I agree that the United States would be in trouble off with no media at all to inform the public, but a government supported media means it would awfully easy to spread propaganda instead of news for the country. That's just as bad if not worse than no hard news media.

This isn't a problem of people not wanting to be informed, it's more because newspapers are refusing to change their 100-year old business model, it's because their content is old and stale, it's because journalists refuse to think outside the box. I'd say that perhaps in five years the current media landscape will look completely different and we could have a lot more "freelance" or "independent" journalists working for themselves on a blog. The newspaper model may not survive, because general media is falling to the wayside and more focused, specialized sources of information are becoming more valued.

And if that's being supplemented by the government, who knows if it's good information at all.

(This is from Political Burnout)

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