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Senator Kerry Aims To Rescue Newspapers

tbg.jpgThe “death of newspapers” has drawn powerful political interest.

Troubled by the possible shuttering of his hometown paper, Sen. John Kerry reached out to the Boston Globe on Tuesday, then called for Senate hearings to address the woes of the nation’s print media.

“To the Boston Globe family,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote to employees of the 132-year-old publication, which faces closure unless it can come up with $20 million in union concessions to parent company the New York Times by May 1. The Globe is losing $1 million a week.

“America’s newspapers are struggling to survive, and while there will be serious consequences in terms of the lives and financial security of the employees involved, including hundreds at the Globe, there will also be serious consequences for our democracy where diversity of opinion and strong debate are paramount,” Mr. Kerry said.

Most newspapers are in similar circumstances as the industry struggles with the worst job losses on record and plummeting revenues. Faced with competition from online and broadcast sources, all papers now seek multimedia ways to deliver their news and monetize their content.

“I am committed to your fight, committed to your industry and committed to ensuring that the vital public service newspapers provide does not disappear,” Mr. Kerry told the Globe employees.

Lawmakers are witnessing the crisis firsthand. Press watchdogs who once prowled Capitol Hill are disappearing, replaced by special-interest publications and foreign news organizations.

In February, a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the past two decades, the number of American news organizations accredited to cover Congress fell by two-thirds – from 564 in 1985 to 160 in early 2007. More cutbacks have been made since then.

Washington once hosted 71 newspaper bureaus; now there are 25. Policy-influencing, special-interest publications and foreign newspapers, however, have multiplied. For example, in 1968, there were 160 foreign journalists in Washington. Now there are nearly 800.

Mr. Kerry, who has called for Senate hearings on “the future of journalism” to begin May 6, also cited the negative influence of “agenda-driven reporting” and media conglomerates.

The new complexities of the marketplace have drawn other interest.

Seeking to parse some potential policy solutions, the House Judiciary courts and competition policy subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday addressing fair competition, new business models and other alternatives for the troubled industry.

“The decline of print newspapers doesn’t mean the decline of journalism. What we need to have for journalism is journalists, and lots of them,” testified Ben Scott of the Free Press, a nonpartisan group for media reform.

“But we should avoid the temptation to turn to policies that resemble bailouts. We should not relax the antitrust standards to permit further consolidation. The most consolidated newspaper companies are among those in the worst financial shape today,” he said.

Last month, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat, introduced the Newspaper Revitalization Act” that would allow papers to operate as nonprofits, prompting many analysts to examine the political implications of the tactic.

(Source: Washington Times)

5 Responses

  1. This could get very interesting. If newspapers can become nonprofit charities, so can other media (such as YWN). Equal protection and First amendment rules would prevent too much government meddling or preferences. Groups too small, such as frum Jews, to have profitable mass media, could have ones that stay “in business” through tax-deductible contributions.

    Of course, saving print media makes as much sense as worrying about the collapse of the ice industry, the horse carriage industry, or mass unemployment of scriveners.

  2. This is getting more & more dangerous as we go along. Does anyone else see this? If the Obamanation feels he owns the banks & car companies, if they own the papers they will ‘officially’ be able to tell them what they are allowed to print,report, etc.

    They should just rename the papers Pravda because it will be no different than what Pravda is.

    This is VERY DANGEROUS & we should not allow it to happen.

  3. 4,

    I dont care where he attends when he attends. That is an irresponsible way to make decisions. You could say that about Rombo Emanuel but he is NOTHING I would want my kids to emulate as his hashkofos are krummer than a banana.

    The facts are the facts as we see them and we see how the Obama has taken over the other industries. This is VERY dangerous to the free speech in this country. As if they have credibility now, they will have ZERO once they are bailed out.

  4. #5 ML

    Do you see evidence of this claim with current taxpayer-subsidized media? From 2000-2008, did NPR provide a right-wing slant on the news, because the Republican administration was in charge?

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