FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

We Need More, Not Less, Separation of State and Journalism

“Newspapers are dying,” writes Rob Kall, Editor-in-Chief of progressive (but refreshingly open-minded) opinion site OpEdNews, in a (recently updated) 2010 op-ed. “Let them. There may have been people who wanted to rescue the buggy whip industry. But they were misguided. It was transportation they really cared about. We need to initiate dynamic, bottom-up approaches to support the ailing field of Journalism, not newspapers.”

Kall’s analysis is as trenchant now as when he first addressed himself to the decline of the newspapers that previous generations knew, and to what looks like a “market failure” on the part of today’s Internet-based news culture. Any mistakes in translating that analysis here are mine, by the way. Here we go:

The rise of free content and ease of entry into the field has us getting more “journalism” … but less real information. Opinion writers (like me) are a dime a dozen. Amateur stringers and glorified copy editors cover five-point-lede “hard news” on the cheap. But the shock troops of news, full-time investigative journalists, have to learn the ropes and they have to be paid. That’s not happening. The result: Many important things get missed and many things that aren’t missed get only insufficient, inaccurate — or worst, sponsor viewpoint biased — coverage.

Kall’s proposed solution: “If the US government invests directly in journalists, so their writings and reports can be freely used by any media organization or site, that investment will yield big results.” He suggests a $3.5 billion program, translating to 50,000 investigative journalists receiving salaries of $60,000 per year with benefits.

My response to Kall: “If the US government invests directly in journalists, we’ll get the journalism the US government wants us to have.”

Kall’s response to me: “That’s a knee-jerk, anti-government reaction. If the funding is structured so journalists can be independent … it doesn’t have to be that way.”

In fairness, I do resemble the “knee-jerk, anti-government” remark.

On the other hand, as Karl Marx — hardly an anti-government type — pointed out long ago, the state is the executive committee of the ruling class. When the state pays the piper, the establishment calls the tune. $60k per year and benefits is a powerful incentive to step far from the paymaster’s toes.

I agree with Kall on the problems journalism faces. But the supposedly “free” American press already tends to act as a free stenography pool/ press release service for government. Direct government funding of journalists would just exacerbate that problem.

I don’t see any easy way through the crisis in American journalism. If it can be saved, I suspect it will be independently minded newspaper and website editors like Kall himself, and journalists who are willing and able to forego financial security while seeking truth, who save it.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail