Sunday, March 29, 2009

On the eve of teaching journalism Spring term at LBCC comes a story, no, a plea in The Nation for an American future that includes a robust media that upholds the promise our Founding Fathers made by including "the press" in the First Amendment.

It takes a while to get to the provocative stuff, but hang in there, the piece by John Nichols and Robert McChesney pays off in the end. The premise is this: Democracy depends in part on a strong "Fourth Estate," and it's up to the government of the people, for the people to give journalism a fighting chance, even if the media has shot itself in the foot, the head and anyplace else you'd care to mention. The authors conclude:
The technologies and the economic challenges are, of course, more complex than in the 1790s, but the answer is the same: the democratic state, the government, must create the conditions for sustaining the journalism that can provide the people with the information they need to be their own governors.
They suggest (Dare I say it?) government subsidies in the form of tax credits for newspaper subscriptions, grants to college media (to educate a new-and-improved next generation of real journalists, not media celebrities), and general fund support to turn failing for-profit newspapers and television stations into non-profit community information providers, not unlike NPR and the BBC.

It's all well-intentioned and thought-provoking, though I'm skeptical today whether it's a solution. I plan to discuss aspects of the article with my classes this term.

Once again, thanks to my OSU journalism colleague Pam Cytrynbaum for bringing this article to my attention. And to OSU journalism instructor Peter Ogle for the great comic, wherever it came from...



Kent said...


I found the article hysterical in two senses of the word:
1. Hysteria about the collapse of papers. Has the author noticed that it is easier (not harder) to get information about the government lately.

2. Hysterically funny to think that the government must be held accoutable by the press, so it should help pay for the press. Uh, how does that work?

I don't like to be mean, but this author was wearing a giant set of blinders.

I personally think Darwinian evolution is vastly overrated despite the fact that it is the "majority view". How can that same majority be so upset when mutation occurs and the older variants are killed off?

As I recall, the Soviet Government owned the Soviet Union's newspapers, and nothing good came of it.

Rob's Media Blog said...

Well said.