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Here Comes Gov’t Controlled Journalism

An excerpt of some of the ‘findings’ from an impossibly long-winded report from the Columbia School Of Journalism:

The Reconstruction of American Journalism

By Leonard Downie Jr. and Michael Schudson

October 19, 2009

What needs to be done to support independent news reporting?

We are not recommending a government bailout of newspapers, nor any of the various direct subsidies that governments give newspapers in many European countries, although those subsidies have not had a noticeably chilling effect on newspapers’ willingness to print criticism of those governments. Nor are we recommending direct government financing or control of television networks or stations

Our recommendations are intended to support independent, original, and credible news reporting, especially local and accountability reporting, across all media in communities throughout the United States. Rather than depending primarily on newspapers and their waning reporting resources, each sizeable American community should have a range of diverse sources of news reporting. They should include a variety and mix of commercial and nonprofit news organizations that can both compete and collaborate with one another. They should be adapting traditional journalistic forms to the multimedia, interactive, real-time capabilities of digital communication, sharing the reporting and distribution of news with citizens, bloggers, and aggregators.

To support diverse sources of independent news reporting, we specifically recommend:

The Internal Revenue Service or Congress should explicitly authorize any independent news organization substantially devoted to reporting on public affairs to be created as or converted into a nonprofit entity or a low-profit Limited Liability Corporation serving the public interest, regardless of its mix of financial support, including commercial sponsorship and advertising. The IRS or Congress also should explicitly authorize program-related investments by philanthropic foundations in these hybrid news organizations—and in designated public service news reporting by for-profit news organizations

Congress should add news organizations substantially devoted to public affairs reporting to the list of specifically eligible nonprofits under section 501(c)(3), regardless of the amount of their advertising income. Or the IRS itself should rule that such news organizations are categorically eligible under the criteria already established by Congress. The IRS also should explicitly allow news nonprofits to express editorial opinions about legislation and politics without endorsing candidates or lobbying. The Obama administration, in which the president and some officials have expressed their openness to ways to help preserve public interest news reporting, should weigh in on these policy decisions

Nonprofit news organizations should, as some already have, individually and collectively through collaboration, develop professional fundraising capabilities like those of advertising departments for commercial news organizations. They also should develop other sources of revenue, including advertising, partnerships, and innovative marketing of their reporting to other news media and news consumers.

Philanthropists, foundations, and community foundations should substantially increase their support for news organizations that have demonstrated a substantial commitment to public affairs and accountability reporting

Led by the Knight Foundation and individual donors like Buzz Woolley and Herbert and Marion Sandler, foundations and philanthropists have begun to respond to the breakdown of that economic model by funding the launch of nonprofit news startups and individual reporting projects, as discussed earlier…

Public radio and television should be substantially reoriented to provide significant local news reporting in every community served by public stations and their Web sites. This requires urgent action by and reform of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, increased congressional funding and support for public media news reporting, and changes in mission and leadership for many public stations across the country.

The failure of much of the public broadcasting system to provide significant local news reporting reflects longstanding neglect of this responsibility by the majority of public radio and televisions stations, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Congress. The approximately $400 million that Congress currently appropriates for the CPB each year is far less per capita than public broadcasting support in countries with comparable economies—roughly $1.35 per capita for the United States, compared to about $25 in Canada, Australia, and Germany, nearly $60 in Japan, $80 in Britain, and more than $100 in Denmark and Finland…

In its next reauthorization of the CPB and appropriation of its budget, Congress should change its name to the Corporation for Public Media, support its efforts to move public radio and television into the digital age, specify public media’s local news reporting mission, and significantly increase its appropriation. Congress should also reform the governance of the reformed corporation by broadening the membership of its board with appointments by such nonpolitical sources as the Librarian of Congress or national media organizations. Ideological issues that have surfaced over publicly supported arts, cultural activities, or national news coverage should not affect decisions about significantly improving local news reporting by public media.

Universities, both public and private, should become ongoing sources of local, state, specialized subject, and accountability news reporting as part of their educational missions. They should operate their own news organizations, host platforms for other nonprofit news and investigative reporting organizations, provide faculty positions for active individual journalists, and be laboratories for digital innovation in the gathering and sharing of news and information.

In addition to educating and training journalists, colleges and universities should be centers of professional news reporting, as they are for the practice and advancement of medicine and law, scientific and social research, business development, engineering, education, and agriculture. As discussed earlier, a number of campuses have already started or become partners in local news services, Web sites and investigative reporting projects, in which professional journalists, faculty members and students collaborate on news reporting. It is time for those and other colleges and universities to take the next step and create full-fledged news organizations

A national Fund for Local News should be created with money the Federal Communications Commission now collects from or could impose on telecom users, television and radio broadcast licensees, or Internet service providers and which would be administered in open competition through state Local News Fund Councils.

The federal government already provides assistance to the arts, humanities, and sciences through independent agencies that include the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health

The Federal Communications Commission uses money from a surcharge on telephone bills—currently more than $7 billion a year—to underwrite telecom service for rural areas and the multimedia wiring of schools and libraries, among other things. In this way, the FCC supports the public circulation of information in places the market has failed to serve. Local news reporting, whose market model has faltered, is in need of similar support.

The FCC should direct some of the money from the telephone bill surcharge—or from fees paid by radio and television licensees, or proceeds from auctions of telecommunications spectrum, or new fees imposed on Internet service providers—to finance a Fund for Local News that would make grants for advances in local news reporting and innovative ways to support it

In the stimulus bill passed in early 2009, Congress required the FCC to produce by February 17, 2010, a strategic plan for universal broadband access that specifies its national purposes. One of those purposes should be the gathering and dissemination of local news in every community, and the plan should include roles for the FCC and the federal government in achieving it.

We have seen into a future of more diverse news organizations and more diverse support for their reporting.

The Fund for Local News would make grants through state Local News Fund Councils to news organizations—nonprofit and commercial, new media and old—that propose worthy initiatives in local news reporting

Local News Fund Councils would operate in ways similar to the way state Humanities Councils have since the 1970s, when they emerged as affiliates of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Organized as 501(c)(3) nonprofits, they have volunteer boards of academics, other figures in the humanities, and, in some places, gubernatorial appointees, all serving limited terms. Local News Fund Council boards should be comprised of journalists, educators, and community leaders representing a wide range of viewpoints and backgrounds.

Grants should be awarded in a transparent, public competition. The criteria for grants should be journalistic quality, local relevance, innovation in news reporting, and the capacity of the news organization, small or large, to carry out the reporting…

More should be done—by journalists, nonprofit organizations and governments—to increase the accessibility and usefulness of public information collected by federal, state, and local governments, to facilitate the gathering and dissemination of public information by citizens, and to expand public recognition of the many sources of relevant reporting

With the Obama administration taking the lead, governments should fulfill “open government” promises by rapidly making more information available without Freedom of Information Act requests. News organizations should work with government agencies to use more of this information in their reporting

Involving thousands of citizens in the collection and distribution of public information began long before computers and the Internet. For over a century, the Audubon Society has relied on thousands of local volunteers for a national bird count that might be termed pro-am scientific research. This is similar to the reporting that volunteers all over the world do for Human Rights Watch, or the information-gathering that health workers do for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The original gathering and reporting of information also includes expert investigations like those of the inspectors general in federal agencies. All of this work amounts to “adjunct journalism”—public information gathering, analysis, and reporting that is adjunct to the news reporting journalists do and available for them to use. It should be fully integrated into what journalists, scholars, and the public recognize as reporting in the public interest…

All of this is within reach. Now, we want to see more leaders emerge in journalism, government, philanthropy, higher education, and the rest of society to seize this moment of challenging changes and new beginnings to ensure the future of independent news reporting.

It’s clear, isn’t it?

You see, they aren’t calling for a government bailout of newspapers. Or direct subsidies from the government. (Like they do in Europe, which they claim is has not hurt the freedom of the press.)

Nor are they recommending direct government financing or control of television networks or stations.

Don’t worry.

They just want those those reliable bastions of the radical left — philanthropy (like the Sandlers), higher education – to put more money into and have more control over the gathering of news.

They also want to give the news media taxpayer subsidies through 501c3 "charities." They want to tax the internet, radio and television so that we can expand "Public Broadcasting" and make sure the government gives out more grants for the right kind of journalism.

They also seek to have this "independent journalism" use more information provided by the government – at least when it is in the control of the Democrat party.

And of course they want more "diversity." (Except of course, diversity of political thought.)

All of which they say is necessary to ensure the future of "independent news reporting."

What could be more obvious?

But, alas, don’t be fooled by all their palaver about how this is necessary to preserve ‘local news’ reporting. This is about controlling the media on every level — but especially on the national level.

And this is exactly how they intend to do it.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “Here Comes Gov’t Controlled Journalism”

  1. catie says:

    WMAL local guy, Chris Plante was talking about this in his first hour this morning. Unfortunately, I’m afraid this will happen.

  2. Rusty Shackleford says:

    And the real question is: Would these self-same bastions of “freedom of information” be tooting the same horn if BushHilter, nay ANY republican was president?

    Somehow I kind of doubt it.

    “Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one” : A.J. Leibling of the New Yorker

    In any case, this doesn’t worry me all that much since information spewed by the nationally owned news syndicate is already at a horrible state and smart people get the real, factual and unvarnished information from the internet and “rogue” stations that do independent talk shows on the radio.

    The effects of which are already showing, with subscriber numbers plummeting for the NYT and MSM news programs feeling the pain. So the first thing they think they need, of course, is to throw money at it. And the most obvious source for that money is, the gubbmint and those “givers” sympathetic to control over everything (or, more colloquially known as ‘power’).

    This, instead of course of being a truly eye of critical thinking when it comes to all things, not just the things they don’t like.

    It is very possible that the people involved are so immersed in this practice that they really think they deliver “news” and “balanced and fair” reporting. Has to do with the shade of the glasses they wear.

  3. proreason says:

    I can’t wait until government controls everything.

    I’m so tired of making decisions and needing money to live.

    Obamy will do a better job of avoiding the crooks anyway. Just look at how he is so pure, even though he came out of nasty old Chicago.

  4. proreason says:

    From Tapper today:

    “Tapper: It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one –


    Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.

    Tapper: But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are “not a news organization.” How are they any different from, say –

    Gibbs: ABC –

    Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?

    Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o’clock tonight. Or 5 o’clock this afternoon.

    Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” — why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

    Gibbs: That’s our opinion.



    How on earth in this great country can the office of the President of the Country slander, malign and intimadate a private news organization that is protected by the Constituion of the United States.

    “Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The Constituition of the Unitied States.

    repeat: prohibiting the free exercise..or abridging the freedom of speech..of the press


    Main Entry: abridge
    Pronunciation: \ə-ˈbrij\
    Function: transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s): abridged; abridg·ing
    Etymology: Middle English abregen, from Anglo-French abreger, from Late Latin abbreviare, from Latin ad- + brevis short — more at brief
    Date: 14th century
    1 a archaic : deprive b : to reduce in scope : diminish
    2 : to shorten in duration or extent
    3 : to shorten by omission of words without sacrifice of sense : condense

    Notice that in the amendment, the “abridging” comment is not linked to “laws”.

    But then, with these criminals and charlatans, they would no doubt say that they are not Congress.

  5. MinnesotaRush says:

    Not one big newsflash on this tidbit.

    Probably requires another czar or two, as well.

  6. VMAN says:

    Let’s make everything non-profit. That way we won’t have to worry about competition and all that nasty kind of stuff. we can all gather together and sing and stuff. You know sing praises to dear leader for he is our light. I DON”T THINK SO!!!

  7. len-t says:

    My health is much better since I have stopped reading the newspaper and watching TV news. I suggest giving it a try.

    • canary says:

      len-t says? what have you replaced it that has made you feel better.

    • len-t says:

      I get what I need from the Rush podcast. Local news is mostly upcoming events (theater, shopping, fairs, concerts) which are of little concern anymore since we are busy with grandchildren when not working. My wife fills me in on local things that affect us through her profession. Weather is easy to get from TV or the internet. Sports Center is my TV news.

  8. Confucius says:

    Thank you all for coming.

    The failed policies of corporate journalism have failed. Worse yet, while their businesses were failing, the CEOs took millions of dollars in bonuses and compensation at the expense of their workers and the American public.

    The New York Times is the latest example of such rampant corporate greed and social injustice. Their CEO is literally killing an elderly old woman, one gray hair at a time.

    Let me be clear, I don’t stand wid tat.

    So today, I call upon Congress to pass historic legislation that I will call Universal Journalism Reform. This transformative legislation must contain a robust Public Option to reduce costs and introduce competition.

    No more journalists amputating the news. No more reporters performing unnecessary interviews. And most important of all, no Editorial Panels deciding which editorial lives and which editorial dies.

    I don’t want to hear “no” from those who made the mess. I want them to get out of the way.

    So, let me be clear. When history calls, history calls.

    Are you fired up? Are you ready to go?



    –copyright PBo 2009, all rights reserved

    . . . upload teleprompter . . . send . . .

  9. canary says:

    Obama said he wanted to tax google, but I read google has found a way around this, such as serving Obama. Stay tuned.

  10. proreason says:

    Tight Leash. The White House is emailing MSLSD real-time now.


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