Mon, 30 Mar 2009 01:11:21 +0000 – By Glenn BeckHost, "Glenn Beck", FOX News Channel
"Extra, extra-read all about it!" Or . . . not. Yeah, these days you don't see kids on street corners hawking their headlines in a marketplace where just about every good-sized city used to have a bunch of competing daily newspapers. Things are wildly different today, largely due to ever-increasing competition from television and the Internet. It's not so much that the news business has changed in the last 50 years (though it certainly has), but the way you consume that news has changed dramatically. Just like your kid's iPod made your old transistor radio a quaint memory of the old days, cable and Internet news sources are proving more popular because they're simply better than newspapers at getting you information that you want, when you want it.
Whether you're a horse and buggy maker or a newspaper publisher, the bottom line is you're a business. And when you stop making something that people want or need, you go out of business-that's capitalism . . . that's America. You don't have to like it, but it's what has kept our economic engine running. It's simple supply and demand.So are newspapers on their way out? It's looking more like it each and every day. Just a couple of weeks ago, The San Francisco Chronicle made a last minute deal to stay in business. (Oh no! -- How else would they advertise that they're a "sanctuary city"?). And the almighty New York Times . . . our nation's "paper of record?" A billionaire had to dig deep and save the "old gray lady." Newspaper readership is down across the industry, and rather than seeing that undeniable fact as a reality of technological advancement and the evolution of how Americans choose to be informed, some people see it as a problem to be "fixed." And, you've probably already guessed this, but some of those people are in . . . the government. Here's a bit of the story (and I read about it online).
Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland has introduced his Newspaper Revitalization Act -- it would allow newspapers to operate as non-profits for "educational purposes" under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to churches, synagogues, mosques and PBS. (Isn't one PSB already too many?) Senator Cardin said, "This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat." Under this arrangement, newspapers could report on all the issues -- politics, you name it -- but they couldn't make political endorsements.
Man, this idea is so bad, I don't know where to begin. Oh wait, yes I do -- it's anti-American! Look, whether you're a horse and buggy maker or a newspaper publisher, the bottom line is you're a business. And when you stop making something that people want or need, you go out of business -- that's capitalism . . . that's America. You don't have to like it, but it's what has kept our economic engine running. It's simple supply and demand -- when there's no demand, there's no need for supply. Case closed, move on. In this country we're going to eventually have to say that some industries are not too important to fail. So while I'm sure Senator Cardin is well-intentioned, thanks but no thanks.
The second reason this idea stinks is that it defeats the whole purpose of what a newspaper is supposed to do. Journalists are supposed to be impartial, especially when it comes to keeping the government honest (Am I the only guy who remembers "All The President's Men"?) If the government starts footing the bill for the newspaper industry, how close to the fire do you think newspapermen and women are going to keep Washington's feet? Exactly. Not very. A newspaper's independence is exactly what allows it to do its job. And when you tell a paper that they can't make political endorsements, it might as well become one of those freebies they hand out at the supermarket with classified ads for free puppies.
Lastly, too much of the newspaper business is filled with smug, "journalistier-than-thou" types who have for too long over-estimated their own sway and importance. This reminds me of the origin story of how we started referring to the press as "The Fourth Estate" (OK, fine, yes, I Goggled it). According tonovelist Jeffrey Archer, "In May 1789, Louis XVIsummoned to Versailles a full meeting of the 'Estates General.' The First Estate consisted of three hundred clergy. The Second Estate, three hundred nobles. The Third Estate, six hundred commoners. Some years later, after the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, 'Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.'"
"More important than them all." Yeah, not so much. There's a new media landscape and newspapers are like 78rpm records. The plain truth is that you can go to FOXNews.comor any number of sites for your news whenever you want, and it's updated constantly. Just like you no longer have to wait to the Towne Crier to start yapping, you don't have to wait for the morning paper to find out what happened -- you can find out what's happening right now. My house is better than a thatch hut, my car is better than a horse and buggy, my iPhone is better than the old rotary model I grew up with, and the Internet blows newspapers away (I don't get ink-stained hands from my mouse). And I hate to "bury the headline" here, but maybe the newspaper business wouldn't be bathing in red ink if they hadn't alienated their readership and strayed so far the sensibility of the American people. I'm just sayin'. . .
Look, I can still appreciate the way things used to be done -- I have a great sense of history and an overwhelming respect for the past. But I just as eagerly embrace the future, and I have no problem using every advance to its fullest and prioritizing what I want my elected officials spending their time and my money on, so when it comes to the government getting involved in keeping the presses rolling . . . I gotta think they have better things to do. Or at least they should. Wait a minute -- did Washington solve all of our problems? I better go online and find out...