Newspaper Profitability --
Is it Critical to our Democracy?
By Michael Reagan
September 23, 2009
Today, as you read this column in your favorite newspaper, I
hope that you can appreciate the irony of where I am choosing
to voice my opposition to President Obama's expressed "happiness"
to look at proposals to provide federal funding to help "rescue"
the struggling print segment of the Fourth Estate. Just what
we needmore of our tax dollars going to pick and choose segments
of the public sector that the administration deems worthy of
I do agree with President Obama when he states that good journalism
is "critical to the health of our democracy." While
I think we can all agree that the media find maintaining neutrality
and hiding biases difficult in many circumstances, one cannot
discount their role in keeping this nation's representatives
in check and sometimes even holding them accountable for their
actions. The essential nature of a free press was so recognized
by our Founding Fathers that it was enshrined in the Bill of
But these views on the importance of journalism in a free society
does not mean I am willing to submit or subscribe to the theory
that we can abandon the principles of a free market in order
to pick and choose select private industries deemed worthy of
receiving federal dollars to bolster their chances of surviving
the ever-changing marketplace.
Today, many of our nation's longest standing print outlets are
struggling to garner advertisers and subscribers. The impact
of the challenging economy on advertising budgets and the ease
and freshness of online news sources have put traditional newspapers
in a challenging position. However, rather than arrogantly assuming
government dollars may be the key to their continued viability,
we should step back and take note of the countless periodicals
that are withstanding these unfriendly challenges to their profitability
by exploring new, creative ways to remain viable during times
of economic hardship and increasing competition from the online
We are not facing the end of the press, but a necessary and perhaps
even desirable evolution in the particular form and style of
our media sources. Journalism is diversifying, not dying. This
is the free market at work.
But this administration and this Congress seem to think that
government is the solution -- the only answer. The answer to
what? To help struggling financial institutions as well as the
auto and newspaper industries gain an advantage? But what industry,
what sector is next? Perhaps they should next look at helping
revive the now-defunct Arena Football League?
As we look out over our nation as it attempts to climb out from
the devastating economic morass of the last 18 months, we can
still see so many Americans out of work and countless small business
struggling to make ends meet. How can President Obama talk about
continued bailouts -- especially one directed toward the media
-- when we fail to address the concerns of the small businesses
that make up a majority of the jobs in our country? How about
targeted tax cuts/rebates for these small businesses instead?
Sadly, it appears to be political. The president seems more
concerned about the influence of blogs and other online informational
resources on the political process than he does about helping
the working families of our nation by being judicious and fair
with their tax dollars. He claims that many of the online news
options are simply carefree when it comes to the facts. Or perhaps
he does not appreciate the online use of facts that is helping
to shape our health care debate?
But regardless of his reasoning or intentions, one thing is clear:
the use of our tax dollars to bail out the newspaper industry
is just one new example of a federal government that is intent
on expanding its own power and reach -- all the while trampling
on America's traditional notion of capitalism and free markets.
Now, that is something worth reporting.
Mike Reagan, the eldest
son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than
200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Radio America
Look for Mike's new book "Twice Adopted". Order autographed
books at www.reagan.com
E-mail Michael Reagan
Copyright 2009 Michael
Reagan, All Rights Reserved.
Distributed exclusively to subscribers for publication
by Cagle, Inc. www.caglecartoons.com.
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