Welfare for Failing Media & Unemployed Reporters Offensive to Press Independence
WASHINGTON D.C. — The Progress & Freedom Foundation today released the fifth installment in their ongoing series on "The Wrong Way to Reinvent Media." This series of papers explores various tax and regulatory proposals that would have government play an expanded role in supporting the press, journalism, or other media content. In the latest essay, Adam Thierer, PFF President, Berin Szoka, PFF Senior Fellow and Director of PFF's Center for Internet Freedom, and Ken Ferree, PFF Senior Fellow, discuss proposals for direct subsidies for failing media outlets and out-of-work journalists.
In Part 5, Thierer, Szoka and Ferree argue taxpayer support for failing outlets and unemployed journalists implicates significant First Amendment concerns. On the whole, subsidies can make "journalists and media operators more dependent upon the State; compromise press independence and diminish public trust in the free press; and result in government discrimination in the politically inescapable dilemma of determining eligibility for subsidies." Such an agenda would also entail huge cost to taxpayers—initially about $35 billion per year according to advocates—and would represent "a massive wealth transfer from one class of speakers to another…"
The authors warn that calls for seemingly beneficent bailouts "to save" the media and journalism may actually be driven by those who have something more nefarious in mind: a "post-corporate" world shorn of media capitalists. For Thierer, Szoka and Feree, "such radicalism must be rejected if we hope to sustain a truly free press and uphold America's proud tradition of keeping a high and tight wall of separation between Press and State."
The ideas within these and other essays in the series will be worked into a major PFF filing in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proceeding on the "Future of Media" on May 7. The paper may be viewed online here. For further information, please contact Mike Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. PFF is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.