Isn’t it time we accept the fact that the Internet is here to stay, and that freedom to choose on the net is our best hope for achieving a well-informed populace? Let’s work to make the net serve the public by strengthening open public access rather than strengthening top-down media outlet funding: a demand-side, rather than a supply-side solution to saving the news.
Perhaps the natural approach would be public funding for a freelance system that lets each individual profit according to their readership through a flat rate per unique visitor. If public funding flowed in this manner, then we'd avoid the prohibition on partisanship that normally comes with public funding, and so avoid the kind of de facto corporate-sponsored censorship through manufactured middle ground that reduces the news to advertisement. It's that reduction that leaves few outside the industry bemoaning the loss of print publications.
This approach wouldn't prevent the best journals, such as The Nation, from continuing to host a number of journalists under a single banner. Nor would it interfere with the renaissance of local publications seeking to fill the gaps produced by the fall of the regional papers. These conglomerates could simply get a cut of the journalists' earnings. Sounds kind of right-headed, don't you think?
Of course, we'll still be left with the problem of future shock--the confusion from too much information--but the fact that this is an intrinsic problem with the net illustrates that William Baker needn't worry that the diminishing ranks of newspaper reporters will block the free-flow of information. The end of regional papers isn't the end of the news business. In fact, the new news business will be better than ever, as the disenfranchised are re-enfranchised. Up until now, the stable of reporters didn't include the starving, the uninsured and the ravaged. Instead, we got only disaster journalism that walked hand-in-hand with disaster capitalism, as journalists insulated and controlled by corporate payrolls walked away from catastrophes when the corporations said the news cycle expired. It's past time for the voices of the poorest, the hungriest and the ravaged to persevere against the soap ads. I'll take that any day over ink on my hands.
Yours at sunmoney.org,
St. Augustine, Fl
Oct 1 2009 - 10:10am