January 25, 2009

What's the Stylebook Definition of "Independent"?

Justin Katz

It's not unreasonable to think such things possible in the United States as we tumble down the "stimulus" hill:

The French state will help provide free newspaper subscriptions to teenagers for their 18th birthdays, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday. But the bigger gift is for France's ailing print media.

Sarkozy also announced a ninefold rise in the state's support for newspaper deliveries and a doubling of its annual print advertising outlay amid a swelling industry crisis.

Sarkozy argued in a speech to publishers that the measures are needed because the global financial crisis has compounded woes for a sector already suffering from falling ad revenues and subscriptions.

In a speech to industry leaders, Sarkozy said it was legitimate for the state to consider the print media's economic situation.

"It is indeed its responsibility ... to make sure an independent, free and pluralistic press exists," he said.

The obvious question is: From whom is such a press "independent" if it depends upon the government for funds? The sorts of people willing to put down their own money for subscriptions?

(Via Ian)

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Put it this way. Imagine Barney "Don't Regulate Fannie & Freddie" Frank, Chris "Sweetheart Mortgage" Dodd and Rod "Fire that Editor" Blagojevich controlling the finances of any newspaper.

(Bad Republican examples also welcome.)

Posted by: Monique at January 25, 2009 3:00 PM

We don't even have to imagine Republicans doing that.
Think of the late Bob Jelenic, former CEO of Journal Register Co. who ordered his Woonsocket Call, Pawtucket Times and Kent County Daily Times to endorse Dubya twice. Think of the current states of those newspapers.
Ever why the ProJo doesn't have viable competition in this state? Jelenic had plenty to do with that.

Posted by: rhody at January 26, 2009 12:43 AM

"Think of the late Bob Jelenic, former CEO of Journal Register Co. who ordered his Woonsocket Call, Pawtucket Times and Kent County Daily Times to endorse Dubya twice."

Why's that bad? Why is that similar to Barney Frank, Chris Dodd or Blago? That's night and day. The editorial pages of a newspaper are supposed to reflect how the newspaper feels on an issue and if the CEO feels one way, I see nothing wrong with him making that the position of the editorial board. His paper, his company, he can do what he wants. Maybe you can argue that it is bad management and irritated the people who work for him, but that's not the same as the ones Monique named off.

Posted by: Patrick at January 26, 2009 2:06 PM

Beyond presidential endorsements, look at the way he raped the company. By the time he left us, shares were worth about a quarter, and these papers' strong reputations in their communities were ruined.
The ProJo never felt any competitive pressure to improve its product because Jelenic was too busy tearing down what should've been its principal competition.
Thank God JRC didn't get any federal funds - they would've gone straight into Jelenic's pocket (the same can be said for most media barons in this country, actually - their greed has killed the newspaper business much more than the Internet or the recession).

Posted by: rhody at January 26, 2009 7:05 PM
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