Print Politics

Print News Bailout Talk

But what about the free press?

Yesterday, President Obama said that as a “big newspaper junkie” he would be happy to look at proposals from Congress in support of a bailout for print news. This could come in one of several forms, anything from funding strategies to monetize online news, to allowing papers to restructure as nonprofits.

It's easy to guess where Obama is coming from with this freshly expressed support. As I mentioned in a post last week, the sheer flood of opinion online over the health care question has created such a glut of conflicting information that reaching a consensus seems to have become almost impossible. Surely this must cause the President to hearken back to a simpler time when print news offered the public no more than a handful of conflicting editorialized opinions to choose from.

Oh for the days.

A print media bailout is interesting news for the entire print industry. On the one hand, it's nice to see the government acknowledging the value of print. On the other hand, historically speaking, government taking control of printing presses is a slippery slope that could easily come to affect commercial printers.

Obama told the Toledo Blade that “journalistic integrity…is absolutely critical to the health of our democracy.” But so is freedom of press. As a printer, I might argue that it would be hard to have one without the other. The challenge ahead is to save them both, without compromising the principles that make them worth preserving.

Is this possible with a bailout? Conversely, is it possible without? Let us know what you think!

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