Oh Great – Government Wants to ‘Save’ Journalism with Creative New Taxes


The FTC wants to save the old dinosaur media. What could go wrong?

The New York Post reported:

The Federal Trade Commis sion says it wants to save journalism. I’m not sure who asked it to.

In a just-released “staff discussion draft” of “potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism,” the agency only circles its wagons around old newspapers and their fading business models.

If the FTC wants to reinvent journalism, perhaps it should align with news’ disruptors. But there’s none of that in this report. The word blog is used but once in 35 pages of text–and then only in a parenthetical mention of soccer blogs. Discussion of investing in technology comes on the last page in a suggestion about tools for “improved electronic note-taking.”

It gets worse. The author of the article, Jeff Jarvis, noted that some bloggers have sold up to $200,000 in ads in a year. (If anyone can let me know how to come even close to that, please drop me a line.) But that’s not the bad news. The FTC seems to show little interest in new media. They want to preserve the old media.

* Expanding copyright law and restricting the doctrine of fair comment to benefit legacy publishers.

* Granting antitrust exemptions to allow publishers to collude on pricing to consumers and to business partners.

* Giving news organizations tax exemptions.

* Subsidizing news organizations by increasing government funding to public broadcasting; establishing an AmeriCorps to pay reporters; giving news companies tax credits for employing journalists; creating a national fund for local news, and giving the press an increased postal subsidy.

To pay for it all they want to tax all sorts of things like broadband, advertising and consumer electronics. Oh, and they would also make it illegal for people like me to go around distributing facts to people like you.

Most dangerous of all, the FTC considers a doctrine of “proprietary facts,” as if anyone should gain the right to restrict the flow of information just as the information is opening it up. Copyright law protects the presentation of news but no one owns facts — and if anyone did, you could be forbidden from sharing them. How does that serve free speech?

Reaganite Republican had it right when he said our “First Amendment rights are coming under pressure from the Bolshevik Boy Wonder yet again.”

Interesting that the government is trying to save the old media while the old media is hiring up all of the left wing bloggers.

Only five years ago, the progressive political blogosphere was still predominately a gathering place for amateur (that is, unpaid or barely paid) journalists and activists unattached to existing media companies and advocacy organizations.  Those days are almost completely over.  Now, the progressive blogosphere is almost entirely professionalized, and inextricably linked to existing media companies and advocacy organizations.

So, who are the money grubbing corporatists?