Friday, February 17, 2012
Brad A. Greenberg (J.D. 2012, UCLA) has posted, "A Public Press? Evaluating the Viability of Government Subsidies for the Newspaper Industry," to SSRN. Here is the abstract of the article:
The press plays a crucial role in American democratic society and, despite the availability of information from online news organizations and new media outlets, remains the primary contributor of new content to the marketplace of information and ideas - integral in setting the agenda for public discourse, connecting readers with their communities, reducing the costs of citizen oversight on elected officials and producing investigative and local news reports. But the press’s role is increasingly threatened by unprecedented struggles in newspaper economics that have sparked massive reductions in editorial operations. The strong public interest in preserving the newspaper industry should compel Congress to stabilize the press. Journalists, politicians and legal scholars have discussed many possible solutions.
This Comment focuses on the viability of direct and indirect government subsidies, evaluating the practical and constitutional questions raised by two potential public subsidy programs - direct funding from government patronage and indirect support by facilitating newspaper conversion to nonprofit status - and whether such programs could be administered without jeopardizing the Fourth Estate’s independence. This Comment concludes that, if Congress chooses subsidies as a vehicle for stabilizing the press, the best program would be one combining direct funding and tax-based incentives into a hybrid similar to that utilized by public radio.