Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saving Newspapers From Their Saviors

Jack Shafer writes:

When President Barack Obama told the Toledo Blade last week that he hoped that the faltering newspaper industry would recover because "fact-based" and "investigative reporting" are "absolutely critical to the health of our democracy," even some of the cynical bastards who staff the nation's dailies swooned.

Of course, the president didn't pay anything more than lip service to the newspapers. He remained, in the Blade's words, "noncommittal" about the bills, including one by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., introduced early this year that would allow newspapers to reorganize themselves as nonprofits. "I haven't seen detailed proposals yet, but I'll be happy to look at them," Obama said.

Here's hoping that the White House's detailed-proposals czar keeps the Cardin bill out of Obama's hands. The last thing newspapers need is the sort of help from the government that turns them into NPR, endlessly begging for contributions, pursuing wealthy philanthropists, and standing in line for government handouts.

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