From Town Criers to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?
As a concerned citizen, I urge the FTC not to adopt the proposed "Reinvention of Journalism" for the following reasons: 1. It appears to be intended to give the government more control over journalism. Even if that is not the intent, government support of journalists and journalist education will almost certainly lead to government influence over journalism. That would subvert our ideal of a free press and make it less likely that the press would expose governmental misconduct. (Could the Watergate scandal have come to light if Richard Nixon had controlled the media?) Government influence over the media would also make free and fair elections virtually impossible. 2. Some of the proposed taxes, such as the "Drudge tax" and the tax on radios, would hinder media with certain political viewpoints, and they appear to be designed to do so. Again, that would violate freedom of the press. For the government to suppress some viewpoints and support others--even in the name of supporting a free press--is an unconstitutional abuse of power. 3. Use of taxpayer money to support journalism forces citizens to pay for the promotion of viewpoints many do not agree with. Moreover, new taxes will hurt the economy. 4. In a free society, the "reinvention of journalism" is the task of media entrepreneurs, not regulatory agencies. Journalism is being "reinvented" by the growth of internet news. The government should not use taxpayer funds to preserve older forms of media that no longer appeal to the public, any more than it should have subsidized town criers after they became obsolete. Like other industries, journalism should have to adapt to changing times. Some news organizations may shrink or close, but internet media will thrive for the foreseeable future. 5. The healthiest possible journalistic climate is one in which anyone with the desire, money, and skill can enter journalism, with minimal regulation. The rise of internet journalism provides such a climate, in which journalists with various opinions contend for an audience. The sheer diversity of organizations, persons, and opinions increases the possibility that important information will reach the public and that any propaganda will be countered. 6. Journalism of some sort will always thrive in a modern republic, although the forms may change. It does not need the government to keep it alive. The proposal would increase tax burdens, make the media dependent on government and subject to government influence, and supress independent journalism. For these reasons, it should not be adopted.