Newspapers Want Help, but From Where?

. Wednesday, June 3

Newspapers want US help during the worst economy in history that papers have faced, but the last place any help can come from is the government. To do so would compromise and negate the role of journalism as the government watchdog and as the source of local and global information.

Newspaper bank accounts have shrunk as more and more people read the news online for free. Ad revenue continues to dwindle as fewer businesses are able to afford advertising that is less effective in front of fewer eyes. Yet, the demand and need for news is very real and very necessary.

Possible solutions are aimed at modifying current antitrust laws that keep papers from 'colluding' to find answers. Some papers are seeking non-profit status as a solution. Senator John Kerry has even suggested allowing newspapers to claim a loss for 2008 and 2009, essentially to allow papers a huge tax break. While online viewing is up, no one has yet figured out how to turn that mode of delivery into one that makes money.

Some think it's vital to act now. Others think it's not yet time. Still others think the whole thing should be left alone, to "creatively destroy itself" and leave the free market to reveal new business models.

This is one issue that seems to be unfolding in a controlled, informed way. The ideas emerging are diverse yet compatible. The people involved have their sights firmly focused on the role of newspapers in society and remain dedicated to that role. Even in crisis, journalism informs.


Rebecca said...

My mother would be lost without her morning paper. She sits and drinks her coffee, newspaper in hand, for about two hours every morning. I don't think there is a line that doesn't get read. I often wonder how the Exponent will survive once her generation is gone. Perhaps I should take it up just to keep a tradition going. :-)

Theresa Komor said...

That would be a good thing, Rebecca. I think reading newspapers should be encouraged all the way around. Just like hard bound books, it is a medium that will never die, and it shouldn't. No e reader would ever replace the tactile involvement with content.