Missing from the discussion about whether the federal government should subsidize the news is the fact that it already is. Congress spends $1.2 million a month on news and research, according to a survey from AOL News. Judging from dollars spent, the New York Times edges out the Washington Post. The Economist leads all magazines. But it's Congressional Quarterly's various publications that really rake it in: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer spends $54,000 a year on CQ merchandise.
This seems sketchy:
Time and Newsweek may still have their ears to Washington, but these days that doesn't translate to a lot of subscriptions on the Hill. Time only netted $741 from the House, while Newsweek had a slightly higher $987. Even the relatively fresh-faced The Week did better than Time, at $887. The most popular magazine in the category? The Economist, with a relatively robust $13,479.
The Economist makes 15-times more than every other newsweekly on Capitol Hill!? Did somebody miss a line-item, or mix up the fact that the Economist Group also publishes CQ and Roll Call? It's a fine magazine, but that margin is shocking.
Also surprising is the salience of some publications most Americans have never heard of. American Banker hauls in $18,000, compared to only $3,000 for the LA Times.
Of course, what Congress is spending money on is distinct from what Congress is actually reading. Magazine subscriptions can sit around in office lobbies and collect dust while the LAs click around Politico and Wonkette.com for hours.