Larry Mantle

Government funding for journalism (aside from public broadcasting)

Journalists Bob McChesney and John Nichols are co-authors of "The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again." Monday morning on "AirTalk" they spelled out their plan for government subsidies to news organizations, so that media can survive the public's unwillingness to pay for their services.

Though we in public broadcasting are recipients of some taxpayer dollars, McChesney and Nichols argue that there are many more ways that government could financially support journalism: vouchers toward newspaper subscriptions, tax incentives for corporately owned papers to sell out to local ownership, and stipends for young journalists who are getting started in the field.

The authors argue that the demise of major American news organizations is leaving a void in essential coverage of state and local issues, as well as a lack of time-intensive investigative pieces that root out corruption. McChesney and Nichols think functional democracy can't survive this shift.

What do you think? Can you imagine the federal govenment providing significantly more money for journalism? Would such a move make media beholden to government? Would Americans support their tax dollars being used in this way?

If public broadcasting were being created in this era, it's hard for me to believe that Congress would vote to fund it. Our funding continues because of the constituency that's already been created. It seems we're in a very different time today.

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