Wednesday, December 17, 2014

This makes me uncomfortable

This makes me uncomfortable

 

By this I mean....this, Nancy Pelosi, along with Patti Murray and other pols, now joined by Attorney General Eric Holder, looking if there's a way that government can keep newspapers from going out of business. I say I'm uncomfortable because the idea that I think that they're proposing -- changing or repealing the Newspaper Preservation Act, one of the many federal laws that, arguably, may do the exact opposite of what was intended -- is worth at least exploring. But I remain uncomfortable with the idea of America's politicians trying to "bail out" newspapers, even if that "bailout" means changing anti-trust-type laws and not cash money. I might be a tad less uncomfortable if this push was a bit more bipartisan rather than all Dems, like Holder (who went all soft on pot in the same day...coincidence?)

It's complicated, but the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 (signed by Richard Nixon!) was meant to preserve two or more different editor voices in a major city, from an era when a city with no newspaper was simply unthinkable. Now, some argue that the law ensures two weak papers in a city that could conceivably both fold (San Francisco, Seattle, Denver) instead of encouraging one strong one. Would repealing the act then be bad for the future of the Philadelphia Daily News. Maybe, but so many things could happen it's hard to say.

In a related development, it's good to know that major newspapers in cities like San Diego are now considered distressed properties like steel mills, cranes, auto parts, and outdated communications technologies.

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Will Bunch
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