Sunday, May 17, 2009

The newspaper bailout?

Leena Rao of TechCrunch has a thoughtful post on the possibility of a newspaper bailout. (No word on bailouts for the buggy whip industry yet.) In addition to the practical issues, TechCrunch identifies the following ethical issues:
  • Under one proposal, newspapers would be prevented from making political endorsements. On the face of it, perhaps this seems like a good idea - after all, newspapers could endorse candidates that had voted for the bailout - but as Rao argues, this measure would constitute an unwelcome First Amendment restriction: "Political endorsements by newspapers and media organizations are a very essence of freedom of speech."
  • But of course, this leads us to the second issue. "The second ethical question is whether journalists will be able to deliver unbiased reporting of the very people and institutions that are helping to subsidize their jobs."
Yes, these are the horns of the dilemma. I suspect that a bailout will spell not only ethical problems but also perception problems with newspapers. They need another way out.

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