Originally published: April 27, 2009
Last updated: April 27, 2009 - 9:07pm
What should Congress do to help journalism? Nothing. Every other answer puts at risk an essential trait of journalism: Independence. But these are risky times ill-served by easy or simple answers. And the problem with the "Do nothing -- let it burn" approach, as media reform advocate Josh Stearns says, is that it could leave us "for some unknown amount of time without really robust journalism... in America." It's too soon to lay odds on what Congress will do, if anything. But here's the first draft of a checklist Mitchell is using to filter his preferences for possible government action: 1) Minimized risk to independence, 2) Encouragement of news consumption, 3) Promotion of innovation, 4) Incentives for diversity of ownership, creation and use, 5) Support for critical infrastructure, e.g. broadband, 6) Short-term help in sustaining journalism during a chaotic transition, and 7) Long-term potential to grow journalism in the public interest. None of these would necessarily save particular newspapers. The idea is to preserve news consumption as opposed to news companies.
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