Public Funding of the Press?
Here’s an interesting item, via former Providence Journal editorial page editor Robert Whitcomb:
In a very modest effort to help save local journalism, New Jersey is enacting a law that dedicates $5 million in state money to strengthen local media outlets. They’re very important as watchdogs in America’s decaying democracy. Political and other corruption rises as journalism fades.
I’m a bit skeptical about the premise. So, we’ve got “very important… watchdogs” protecting us against “political and other corruption,” and the solution is to increase the extent to which they’re dependent upon government for funding?
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The fact that the $5 million would be handed out by a consortium of universities is no comfort. Even if they weren’t (at a minimum) dominated by public institutions, universities are overwhelmingly left-wing, which will color the news that they support. Maybe fears about funding a government-news system could be somewhat abated if the consortium were a clever collection of balanced political and ideological interests, but the attempt isn’t even made.
In other words, a propaganda network doesn’t cease to be one simply because the funding passes through the hands of government’s reliable allies, who are also overwhelmingly allies of a particular political party.