Several have predicted that there will be some kind of Government intervention in the media industry in 2009 as traditional media continues to struggle. Though it is unclear as to President-Elect Barack Obama’s views on such a move, many see a clear need for a bailout.
Back in November, Connecticut State Representatives petitioned the sate to subsidize Bristol Press and The Herald of New Britain. Though the state did grant tax relief and training subsidies to the papers, no cash was given out.
Sara Catania recently argued in the Huffington Post for government-subsidized journalism, which would provide grants for journalists. Getting paid by a non-profit entity funded by the government would allow for some distance between journalists and government and restrict any conflict of interest problems.
Many disagree with such assistance to the media or to journalists in particular. Blogger Duncan Riley writes, “If Sara Catania cannot find adequate compensation for her work, then as it would be in any other person, she needs to adjust what she is doing, or simply find another line of work.”
The issue remains whether or not journalism can be seen as a public service, whether the investigative reporting that results from journalists should be supported even if it is not as profitable as it once was. If journalism can be seen to have a value above its market value, then the government should consider stepping in, as it does with every other public good (parks, museums, etc.). In order to employ journalists, who, as educated and intelligent people on the whole, could easily find other work, someone has to pay them decent wages.
“The late, great David Halberstam once described the life of a journalist as a donation to society, and I can abide that, to a point,” wrote Catania. “I never expected to rake in the bucks, only to make enough to contribute my share to the family coffers. It seems a reasonable expectation.”
The issue of deserved pay aside, it may be incomplete to argue that new media is hands down the future of journalism. It certainly has a role to play and has changed the way news organizations present their news and the way some news breaks, but it is choppy at best. Though traditional media should adapt to the evolution of new media, new media do not break the kind of news that a traditional news organization does.
“Those among us who are dedicated to the work, who have the experience and the desire and the hunger to continue, want a chance to do what we love and keep the stories coming,” Catania wrote. “We don’t promise that the stories will be flattering, but we do promise that they will be honest, fair and well-reported. We can’t hang on much longer.”