How important are newspapers?

President Obama has never met a bailout he didn’t like. The latest bailout idea is for the newspaper industry. President Obama said that journalism “is absolutely critical to the health of our democracy.”

He is right on that point. Despotic regimes protect themselves by restricting the flow of information to their citizens. The press has been a check against abuses of power. We do need journalism.

Where he is wrong is in thinking that propping up a dying industry and in placing too much emphasis on a medium that is nearly obsolete. Newspapers are not the only home of journalism. Journalism will continue to exist even when newspapers fold (heh heh).

Even for those who like their newspaper, a government bailout is the worst solution. It will only hasten the demise of newspapers. The reason that journalism is important to our democratic republic is that newspapers (even those that are unabashedly support the President’s agenda – I’m looking at you New York Times) are independent of government interference. That will not be the case when they get government money.

Pravda was entirely funded by the Soviet government and was never seen as a credible source of journalism. Any U.S. newspaper that takes government money will compromise its journalistic integrity and nullify the very reason it exists. Government money can only turn a journalistic organization into a propaganda arm…(cough)PBS(cough).

Newspapers are not the only hope for maintaining our republic and will be completely irrelevant if they take any government money.