Thursday, June 10, 2010

Obama wants to help newspapers

Obama's desire to love newspapers has hit a wall of public opinion - public opposition. Obama wants to "help" newspapers stay in business. With his help they might stay in business, but they could not stay independent. Of course Obama's FCC says "we don't want to interfere" with the independence of the press. But it is inevitable when the government helps. And a Rasmussen poll of the public found just that. Overwhelmingly people thought government help would mean influencing the press. And the public placed independence of the press above the survival of news printed on cheap paper. Mark Tapscott at Washington Examiner:
More devastating news today from Rasmussen Reports for the FTC's "Reinventing Journalism" project, as fully 85 percent of the respondents to a national telephone survey say protecting freedom of the press is more important than saving existing newspapers. Perhaps even more worrisome for the FTC is the fact that only 19 percent of the respondents think it's appropriate for the government to be involved in efforts to prop up existing newspapers, according to Rasmussen. The FTC's "Reinventing Journalism" project is only at the staff discussion level for now, but there is clearly an effort supported by President Obama to mount some kind of bailout for the newspaper industry similar to those previously conducted by the administration in taking over GM and Chrysler, as well as multiple Wall Street firms, most of the mortgage industry and key elements of the insurance industry. See also my column from last week warning my colleagues in the journalism world that there is no way the federal government can be involved in funding or otherwise "saving" newspapers that won't eventually result in major media outlets becoming tools of government propaganda. Claims by FTC officials and their supporters in the media and academic communities that government aid won't lead to government control of news reporting face an uphill battle with the public, according to Rasmussen, too: "Sixty-four percent (64%) of adults say it is at least somewhat likely that if the government provides funding for newspapers to hire journalists, the government will then place limits on what those journalists can cover. That includes 41% who believe it is Very Likely."
6/11/10: I added the link to Tapscott's story.

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