Thursday, May 07, 2009

All the News that's Fit to Subsidize

Did you get a morning paper today?
This is not a plug for the Houston Chronicle—or USA Today—or The Wall Street Journal…but I am among those who must read the paper each morning, not just as a function of my job as a Real Radio Host, but because I enjoy it.

I like thumbing through the pages.
If I see something I like, I can clip it out, or turn back and re-read it again later.

Yesterday, I needed to review an article I’d seen on a back page, and so I parked the car, pulled my copy of the paper out of the trunk, and flipped through the pages until I found what I was looking for…

I suppose I could have done that with an on-line edition of the paper, it's not as convenient to do so in a car. The business of disseminating the printed word is evolving…just as the meaning of “publishing” must now also include electronic versions on the Web.

The world is changing, and yet, our leadership is still stuck in the old world, trying to preserve that which will eventually be out paced and outlived by the natural progression of time and technology.

Now, Sen. John Kerry wants the Government to provide tax breaks for newspapers, or allow those who are struggling to survive to operate as nonprofits…which, if you ask most newspapermen, most all would qualify.

In fact, I may apply for non-profit status if some of my receivables don’t pay up.

Kerry wants Congress to help the newspaper industry suffering from a collapse in advertising revenue, mounting debt, and the loss of print subscribers to free online news websites. John, John, John, John, John…have you not yet learned the lessons of the free marketplace?

Has no one on Capitol Hill yet grasped the fact that when people stop buying things they don’t want, that doesn’t mean Congress has to step in to “save” it?

If that were the case, where are the subsidies for Conestoga’s?
Why is there no government subsidy for telegrams? Should we be propping up the Clothes-line Industry because too many people have clothes dryers in our homes?
C’mon, John….

And in what has got to be the most stupid utterance this week by a public official who should know better, Kerry told a Senate subcommittee hearing on the future of journalism “without newspapers, there will be too few journalists investigating governments, companies and individuals.”

Obviously, Sen. Kerry’s never heard of this thing called The Internet, which spreads information faster than a speedily-thrown newspaper landing in your yard at 4am.
"I think there are definitely some things we can do to encourage, to help the situation without stepping over any line," Kerry told Reuters after holding a hearing on the future of journalism.

These guys who've never held a real job, and I daresay, never known a hard deadline, are now futzing about with tax relief methods, accounting tricks--including how and when publishers can classify operating losses--and whether newspapers should be allowed to operate as nonprofit companies for educational purposes.

How about letting the one’s who get the evolution to electronic media survive because of their foresight and prowess, and those that cannot embrace and address these changes, allow to fail?

The members of the Subcommittee said they wanted to "figure out how to preserve the core societal function that is served by an independent and diverse news media."

You want to preserve a diverse news media?
Leave it alone, Congress.

And while you’re at it, how about not penalizing the electronic media when they don’t roll over every time the President wants to go on the air and read from his teleprompter…how about not favoring some media outlets over others—a la the dissing of the FOX network’s media pool reporter when that network chose to not pre-empt a revenue generating program in favor of another Obamafest press conference.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, the daughter of a journalist for the Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, was quoted saying yesterday, "I'm afraid we're going to lose that watchdog if we don't figure this out.”
No, you’re going to foul it up, if you don’t stay out of their business.

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