From John Nichols and Robert McChesney in The Nation
What to do about newspapers? Let’s give all Americans an annual tax credit for the first $200 they spend on daily newspapers. The newspapers would have to publish at least five times per week and maintain a substantial “news hole,” say at least twenty-four broad pages each day, with less than 50 percent advertising. In effect, this means the government will pay for every citizen who so desires to get a free daily newspaper subscription, but the taxpayer gets to pick the newspaper–this is an indirect subsidy, because the government does not control who gets the money. This will buy time for our old media newsrooms–and for us citizens–to develop a plan to establish journalism in the digital era. We could see this evolving into a system to provide tax credits for online subscriptions as well.
I say this with all due respect: Shut the fuck up. A newspaper tax credit? Are you kidding me? The news industry’s current state of fail would in all likelihood be occuring even if the economy was in a boom time. The ones destined to die need to just die. These papers have, in the last 20 years or so, done far more harm by virtue of shoddy journalism or neglect than the good they’ve done. The good ones with good writers will survive in one way or another without a freaking tax credit.
The beloved news media presided over the trashing of President Clinton, the election and re-election of George W. Bush, the invasion of Iraq, and beyond without batting an eye. The existing news media has been an active irritant on our democracy. They could do with a good smash up about now.
There’s nothing wrong with public media. In fact, Frontline is easily the best news program on television. But this is so far out of the purview of the government it isn’t even funny. There’s at least a rational case to be made for government intervention in the auto, banking, and other vital industries. But newspapers? Tax credit?
Please. This kind of hand-wringing just makes The Nation look really stupid.
Let. Them. Die.