Even the politicians are feeling bad. Still, I'm with David Carr on this one--I'm not sure government funding is the answer:
I'm all for journalists swarming the Hill, especially now that about half of the reporters who used to work there are gone, potentially leaving much of government to its own devices. But to leave our industry tin-cupping its way around a government it covers seems desperate and ill-advised: a cure that might be worse than the disease.
No one is arguing that the situation is not dire. Though Marissa Mayer, a Google vice president, calmly told the senators on the panel led by Senator Kerry that "it's still very early," we all know better. In the past six months, five major American publishers have filed for bankruptcy.
Given that monopolies that drove the business are falling apart, some antitrust relief that would allow the industry to collectively hit the reset button seems reasonable. But how exactly is the rest of it an agenda item for an elected government? Besides all the esteem we seem to hold ourselves in, it is difficult to make a rational economic argument for granting special favors to a relatively minor part of the American economy. Alan D. Mutter, who blogs at Reflections of a Newsosaur, said that newspapers "collectively employ a mere 0.2 percent of the nation's labor force and generate only 0.36 percent of the gross national product." In other words, we are not, like the bankers and the auto industry we have covered so ferociously, too big to fail.
Wasn't it up to publishers when things were fat and happy to invest for this foreseeable crisis? And wasn't it the publishers themselves who leapt into the arms of online aggregators and now want government intervention for what seems to be a business negotiation gone bad?
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