Just Say No To Journalism Subsidies
Government subsidies of journalism are such a bad idea that news executives who fear their businesses may not exist 10 years from now still don’t want the money.
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism put the question of government-subsidized journalism to news executives who are part of the American Society of News Editors and Radio Television Digital News Association, and most of the 353 executives who responded voiced serious reservations about the idea.
The survey found that 75 percent of all news executives, and 88 percent of newspaper executives, have “serious reservations” about direct government subsidies. Nearly half (46 percent) are even concerned with the idea of tax credits for news organizations, and only 19 percent support that idea despite ongoing industry woes.
The comments that news executives offered in the survey are telling:
- “If the government becomes the ‘money bags’ for journalism, journalism will become the ‘bag man’ for the government,” wrote a member of RTDNA. “This would be an assault to the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
- “The lines become too blurred if we begin taking donations and subsidies. Even if we remain aggressive in coverage why would readers believe we are independent?”
- “Government involvement in any form is a terrible idea.”
The news executives are concerned about the future of journalism as a profitable profession. Nearly a third (29 percent) think their news organizations could be insolvent within five years. Add the 18 percent who give their companies 10 years of survival, and nearly half of news executives clearly are pessimistic about the future.
Hopefully the bureaucrats will listen to the news executives whose careers are at stake and stay out of the way as media firms continue to experiment with local search products, micro news and other revenue models outlined in the survey.