Washington Post Looks For Government Handout To “Save Journalism”May 16th, 2009 | By James Lewin | Category: Commentary, General
The Washington Post published a piece today by Bruce W. Sanford and Bruce D. Brown that argues that the US government needs to step in and enact laws to “save journalism”:
Unless Congress embarks on far-reaching change in public policy to maintain the viability of journalism as it evolves online, we will soon find ourselves with the remnants of a broken industry incapable of providing the knowledge necessary to manage life in a complex world.
Sanford and Brown go on to make a variety of suggestions for ways the government “save journalism”:
- Redefine copyright so that what search engines practice do when they crawl the Web is “not fair use but infringement.” According to The Washington Post, this would force search engines “to negotiate with copyright holders over the value of their content.”
- Federalize the “hot news” doctrine. This would allow news publishers to sue websites that spread news stories.
- Give newspaper publishers tax breaks. Washington state has already slashed taxes on newspapers by 40 percent.
- Subsidize print advertising – The Washington Post would like to see Congress “provide incentives for placing ads with content creators (not with Craigslist)”.
In other words, The Washington Post thinks that the only thing that will save journalism from Google, Craigslist and bloggers is a heaping serving of government pork.
The Washington Post’s argument would seem pathetic is it weren’t so maddening.
The Post seems to have missed this news: twice as many people trust the Internet as a source of news as trust their local newspaper.
And, in a world of real-time news, it’s newspapers that are “incapable of providing the knowledge necessary to manage life in a complex world.”
New media publishers are 50 times as efficient as traditional publishers, according to U.S. News & World Report. Bloggers, vloggers and podcasters are pioneering hyperefficient platforms for content creation and distribution.
Newspaper publishers need to learn from new media and find ways to publish news more efficiently. Instead, they’re looking for the government to protect the status quo.
Is it time for The Washington Post to break out the “Why lie – I need a beer” sign?
Leave a comment with your thoughts!
Image: Mark McLaughlin