Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Save "Journalism?"

John Nichols and Robert McChesney are circuiting the country to promote their new book, The Death and Life of American Journalism.

Their thesis is that we have returned to the era when pro-democracy forces in American society require large government subsidies--especially in the form of postal credits--to journalism.

Without government subsidies, the free-market model will kill investigative reporting and the wide spectrum of viewpoints necessary in print media to sustain a vibrant democracy.

The essential component for the immediate stimulus should be an exponential expansion of funding for public and community broadcasting, with the requirement that most of the funds be used for journalism, especially at the local level, and that all programming be available for free online. Other democracies outspend the United States by whopping margins per capita on public media: Canada sixteen times more; Germany twenty times more; Japan forty-three times more; Britain sixty times more; Finland and Denmark seventy-five times more. These investments have produced dramatically more detailed and incisive international reporting, as well as programming to serve young people, women, linguistic and ethnic minorities and regions that might otherwise be neglected by for-profit media.

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