Whence the subsidies for good journalism? by mattsteinglass
June 9, 2009, 3:53 am
Filed under: Internet, Media

Matthew Yglesias notes today that “The problem for everyone trying to make money on the internet…is that ad rates on the web just don’t bring in very much money. In England, two of the best sources of information, the BBC and the Guardian, are already run as non-commercial enterprises and I have a feeling that more and more of the serious newsmedia will come in that form in the future.” Jacob Weisberg made exactly the same point earlier today at the Future of Broadcasting panel here at the IPI Helsinki conference.

Actually Weisberg made the point even more sharply: if you think of basically any news organization that has produced top-notch journalism, it’s almost certain to have been subsidized in some way. He mentioned the BBC and the Guardian, PBS and NPR, but also the fact that all of the top American newspapers, the NYT, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post etc., have been run by public-spirited families that never sought to maximize profit, or they would have been in a different business. In the future, Weisberg said, you have to expect that any effort to continue to guarantee good journalism is going to have to involve subsidies from somewhere. The question is where.


3 Comments so far
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Of course a lot of the worst content on the internet is also produced by websites subsidised by the public purse. The emphasis here should be on ‘public spirited’ rather than ‘public’, but then I guess spirit doesn’t pay the bills!

Comment by FOARP

Um, I’m pretty sure the overwhelming majority of the “worst content on the internet”, more than 99%, is produced by private individuals on websites not subsidized by the public purse. I now submit conclusive proof of my thesis:

Comment by mattsteinglass

Groovy. I guess I was talking about agit-prop holes like China Daily, but point taken!

Comment by FOARP

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