Bad News

There’s an excellent, if scary, article by Eric Klinenberg in the most recent issue of Mother Jones. In “Breaking the News” he reports that the FCC chairman wants to lift the cap on media cross-ownership – so badly that his office destroyed a study that found it would be bad for society. Case in point: Tribune Media, exempt from the FCC rules. It gutted its subsidiary, the L.A. Times.

The number of newspaper employees has dropped 20% since 1990; in-depth news and investigative reporting is becoming a luxury even though newspapers are profitable – with many publicly-traded chains raking in 20-25% profit margins.

As Dean Basquet, formerly of the L.A. Times, says in a sidebar – this is bad news.

We are not a regular business . . . We insist that the mayor and governor meet us when we want to meet with them. We insist that the military let us travel with them; we insist that the president has press conferences. There aren’t a lot of companies that can make those kinds of demands of the government or even private business. In return we’re going to act a little bit like a public-service institution. We can’t pretend we’re like just another private business, because we’re not. We get too many benefits from government and have too much responsibility to act like Microsoft.


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