Connecticut Lawmaker Petitions for Newspaper Bailout

Following the government's billion dollar bailout to the automobile and financial sectors, a Connecticut lawmaker is petitioning to save the local newspaper, Reuters reported.

Frank Nicastro, who represents Connecticut's 79th assembly district, is asking the state government to do something to salvage The Bristol Press, a paper that may fold within days, along with The Herald. The papers' publisher, Journal Register, is in danger of being crushed under millions of dollars in debt, and can't afford to keep them open.

"The media is a vitally important part of America," Nicastro said, particularly local papers that cover news ignored by big papers and television and radio stations.

But, relying on the government has raised ethical questions for the press, whose role has been to operate without government influence and media experts predict that 2009 will be the year that newspapers will "die" in wake of the financial meltdown.

Former Miami Herald Editor Tom Fiedler says that a democracy has an obligation to preserve a free press.

"I truly believe that no democracy can remain healthy without an equally healthy press," said Fiedler, now dean of Boston University's College of Communication. "Thus it is in democracy's interest to support the press in the same sense that the human being doesn't hesitate to take medicine when his or her health is threatened."

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