From Town Criers to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?
There is absolutely no reason for the US government to go into the journalism business in any way. The failure of such venerable organs as the New York Times to operate in a financially sustainable way is not a problem that demands the "reinvention" of anything. If they cannot offer such an interesting and relevant product that people will pay an economic price which will support it, that is life. By the same notion that calls for supporting a failed model, people should never have gone away from setting type by hand. Government should also not be the subsidizer of losing economic deals. This robs taxpayers of money they should be allowed to keep and use as they see fit, and to support information services they find to be the most useful and relevant. Government cannot determine this and should not determine this, in a free country. Some of the latest infringements on personal freedom come out of the hubris that government agencies can make better decisions than citizens can, that citizens don't know enough. If citizens don't know enough, how can you begin to assume government agencies (composed of citizens) will know enough? Employment by government does not automatically make one honest, intelligent or moral. The federal response to the Gulf oil spill is a classic failure of government agencies to act efficiently, and only just the latest one to get media attention. Government should not be picking winners and losers in the race to deliver information and utility to citizens. This inevitably will lead to an expansion of government influence on what information is communicated and how. This is intolerable in light of the First Amendment, which by definition rules government out of making such decisions and reserves that right to free citizens, through their actions as individuals. That failures such as the New York Times are predominantly "liberal" in their views does not make their failure a rescue mission to keep such viewpoints available to citizens who seek them. There are a number of "liberal" web sites and "journalists" who contribute in that way. These "liberal" websites are siphoning customers from NYT just as other internet information sites are. There is no danger that "liberal" viewpoints will be suppressed if NYT disappeared. Finally, FTC has as its mission regulating trade between the states. It has no business or mission acting as advocate of particular forms or trade, much less so when the inter-state aspects are minimal. FTC should keep to its mission. Because other agencies are playing the "mission creep" game and getting into areas they should stay out of is no reason for FTC to follow. Sincerely, George Schirtzinger