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Why a Bailout Will Compromise Newspapers

May 7, 2009

An article ran in the NY Times today with the headline reading “A Public Relations Battle with New Jersey Paper Backfires.”

Hm. Now, being raised by a dad from Jersey, I know you don’t mess with Jersey. It’s just asking for it. Lowdown on article: Paper is going to run controversial article detailing the powerful connections of some board members. Hospital calls paper and says they are yanking all advertising. Let’s call this scenario ‘Sticking it to the Man.’

The paper ran the story anyway. Later in the week, hospital executives told The Record’s distribution staff that the paper could no longer be sold at the hospital’s gift shops or newspaper boxes. The paper then ran a story about the hospital’s reaction, which prompted apologies. Guess the company thought it would wreck havoc at the paper and they would issue a retraction.

press-roomGuess what? Newspapers should not be dependent on money. Advertisers should not control the press, either, as seen above. Yes, I know many are going under. But if newspapers get bailed out, is there ever going to be a true level of unbias? NPR and PBS are great examples of how this can work, but they also have a balance between gov. grants and citizens.  I may be way off, but it’s not “government-run” news. That’s a pretty steep comparison, that if newspapers are bailed out they are ‘government-run’.

If the government bails out newspapers, there might be an underlying sentiment that they have control and newspapers should be cautious about what they print. Will they truly report the facts in an unbiased manner, as is their job function? We as Americans have a freedom of speech, but will that be compromised?

The United States has a strong free press, and we need to keep that. There has to be another way besides a bailout. What do you think?

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 7, 2009 11:59 pm

    We briefly spoke about this today, but being a journalist at heart, (my first exposure was as an intern for a small daily) the thought of a gov’t sponsored bailout is frightening. It’s the definition of conflict of interest. It would eliminate unbiased reporting and ultimately destroy the First Amendment.

    Hyperlocal has the most potential, but I question the sustainability of such an approach. Although we live in a society that thrives on the speed in which news travels, I tend to think that if we don’t find out via WOM, we’d become willing to have a slight delay in the broadcast of local news.

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