Sunday, March 7, 2010

Newspapers and Congress: How Dumb Can They Get?

Senator Cardin of Maryland crafted a Bill to save the newspapers. Cardin states:

In recent months, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News, the Baltimore Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others, have either ceased daily publication or announced that they may have to stop publishing. A number of other publications, including newspapers owned by the Tribune Company, owners of The Baltimore Sun, have filed for bankruptcy or have had to institute severe cutbacks that have impacted news coverage.

The Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as non-profits, if they choose, under 501(c)(3) status for educational purposes, similar to public broadcasting. Under this arrangement, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements, but would be allowed to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt and contributions to support coverage or operations could be tax deductible.

The measure is targeted to preserve local newspapers serving communities and not large newspaper conglomerates. Because newspaper profits have been falling in recent years, no substantial loss of federal revenue is expected.

“We are losing our newspaper industry,” said Senator Cardin. “The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy.

“While we have lots of news sources, we rely on newspapers for in-depth reporting that follows important issues, records events and exposes misdeeds. In fact, most if not all sources of journalistic information – from radio to television to the Internet – gathers their news from newspaper reporters who cover the news on a daily basis and know their communities. It is in the interest of our nation and good governance that we ensure they survive.”

According to Barclays (sic) Capital, newspaper advertising revenue was down by about 25% for 2008, and circulation continues to steadily decline at most major newspapers as readers increasingly turn to alternative electronic news sources.

Senator Cardin added: “This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains, but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat.”

Well is this were the buggy whip, the horseless carriage, gas lamps, would the Senator also attempt to hold back the future? Most likely so. One need read the Bill to see how extreme he gets.

It appears that newspapers are doing whatever the can to get us the taxpayers to keep their old way of doing things in business. Clearly they have a business model which is decay. For example in today's Times Week in Review there is a cartoon with grandma saying the "the newspaper says that the letter is dying..." The father asks what is a letter as he uses email and the little boy asks what is a newspaper while playing with some mindless electronic gadget. Grandma is either made to look like an a technophobic or the kid a self possessed idiot, both may apply.

Yet this is what is happening. For example I am now using video conferencing more than ever before, grandson to me, and dad uses email. Yet for newspapers, well no one trusts what the write. Look at the NY Times, we know its political bent, we know it twists every story it writes, thus I must deconvolve the truth from the spin if at all possible. This is nothing new, what is new is that in the print media it is dominated by left wing preachers.

Thus we go to the Internet for news. There we can use reason and judgment to determine the truth, as any one would do.

So who is pushing Cardin, I guess one just has to follow the money!