Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A solution to the imminent death of the newspaper?

This NYT Op-Ed quotes Thomas Jefferson as saying, “... were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.” The authors propose an interesting solution to the dying newspaper industry - they suggest turning the "dead-tree" newspaper companies into nonprofit, endowed institutions instead of relying primarily on advertising and circulation to generate revenue. Endowed newspapers and those making contributions towards the papers would be exempt from taxes, but they would no longer be allowed to endorse candidates for public office.

To parallel the contrast drawn by Iyengar & Grady between European and American government-media relationships, President Sarkozy announced the French solution to the downturn of the newspaper industry: more government support. Specifically, his plan would increase government support from 280 million euros/year to about 480 million euros/year. An interesting twist to the proposal is the inclusion of a measure that would give 18 year-olds free subscriptions to the printed newspaper of their choice. American media specialists feel that such government support would negatively affect newspapers' legitimacy in the eyes of the public, but apparently Sarkozy does not share this concern.

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