Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why did no one think to bail out the buggy industry?

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. Skimming the headlines over at Newsmax.com, my eyes alighted on this: Report Urges Bailout to Preserve Journalism.

"Yikes!" methinks to myself. "Could it really be?" And so I clicked the headline to read the story:
NEW YORK -- Journalism is at risk and American society must act to preserve it, according to a report co-authored by The Washington Post's former executive editor.

In a paper commissioned by the Columbia University Journalism School, the ex-Post editor, Len Downie, and Michael Schudson, a Columbia professor, argue the government, universities and nonprofit foundations should step in as newspapers suffer financially.

The authors recommend that the Internal Revenue Service or Congress ensure the tax code allows local news outlets to operate as nonprofits. Downie and Schudson also urge philanthropic organizations to support local reporting. They suggest the Federal Communications Commission establish a fund using fees from telecommunications companies or Internet providers for grants to innovative local news groups.
Let's suppose the government steps up to the plate and bails out failing newspapers. Will there be any strings attached? Like required changes in management (think GM)? Will there be any required changes in editorial policy? Will there be regulation of content? To ask the questions is to answer them. Whenever you receive government money, you invite government control. He who pays the piper calls the tunes, as they say. There goes a free press. Newspapers will simply become the official propaganda tool of the federal government.

The article continues...
"American journalism is at a transformational moment, in which the era of dominant newspapers and influential network news divisions is rapidly giving way to one in which the gathering and distribution of news is more widely dispersed," the report begins.
Some people, including yours truly, see this as a good thing. A centralized control of the flow of information is a means of brainwashing. For far too long there have been far too few means of "gathering and distributing" the news. And what means there have been have been overwhelmingly secular and liberal.

With the explosion of the internet, the official gate-keepers at the "dominant newspapers and influential network news divisions" have been bypassed, so we no longer have to be subjected to the groupthink of the mainstream media.

Besides, why is it that a failing enterprise should be propped up by the taxpayer? If a business, any business, is not producing a product that people want, shouldn't it go out of business? Why did no one think to bail out the horse and buggy industry? Couldn't they see that with the advent of the automobile, the buggy industry was doomed?

The automobile proved to be a far more desirable mode of transportation than a horse and buggy, much like other news outlets are proving to be far more desirable than the MSM. The only people who would have advocated for a bailout of the buggy industry would have been buggy-makers, who would have simply been trying to serve themselves. They might have tried to couch their pitch for a "buggy bailout" in high-sounding altruistic terms like saving thousands of jobs, preserving an American institution, etc., but the fact of the matter is that they were producing a product that no one wanted anymore more because other means of transportation were faster, more efficient, and easier to maintain.

Just so, the product of the MSM is a product that fewer and fewer people want. Other sources of information are proving to be more reliable, and other means of delivery (especially the internet) are proving to be more efficient than newspapers.

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