The Outstater

July 10, 2024

Government ‘Journalism’

ECONOMISTS TELL US that life is a matter of trade-offs rather than solutions, as anyone over age 50 on a diet can attest. So I’m warming to the idea of the government funding media. It can’t be worse and it might be more informative in a perverse way.

Here’s the plan before us: Indiana, following the lead of New York, could pass a “Local Journalism Sustainability Act,” allowing publishers and broadcasters tax credits for newsroom salaries. The idea is being considered in New Jersey, California, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Illinois, Washington “and beyond,” reports Reason Magazine 

As usual, we are lumped in the “beyond” category, but if Reason is correct Indiana can expect a proposal something like this: refundable tax credits of up to $25,000 for the first $50,000 worth of journalists’ salaries with a per-company cap of $300,000. We are warned that the nation ismoving toward “divorcing journalism outlets from a need to serve readers and listeners to remain financially afloat.”

But except for the “financially afloat” part, we don’t see what would change. Serving readers and listeners is no longer a part of the journalism business plan. What is a part is the telling of people what they should do and think, something government types imagine they also are good at.

My local newspaper no longer can be depended upon to cover city council meetings or much else that isn’t handed to it by an institutional or governmental source. If from time to time it could afford to send out a state-funded “reporter/bureaucrat” we might learn what the powers that be think is a good idea — and then we could work against anyone who supported it. 

More editorials and opinion pieces would serve the same purpose. And more front-page headlines along the lines of “World to End; Transgenders to Suffer Most” would be a hoot.

For any market analyst worth his data trove will tell you that American media is failing for lack of trust, its only valued product. That our leadership, private or public, thinks the solution is more government involvement explains a lot about our situation. — tcl


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