Stay Away, G-Man
One of the great things about our nation is that the U.S. government does not “own” the news media. Unlike some other nations, armed agents don’t burst through the doors of our TV stations and newspapers when they disagree with a story. Journalists don’t disappear. Instead, awards are given to those who challenge the status quo; and we often encourage people to express themselves across a variety of platforms. For this reason, ideas and insight have flourished.
It is precisely because of the way media has impacted culture over the years, absent government intervention, that I get concerned when the government tries to jump in and say, “Let us help you.” Journalism isn’t what it used to be, particularly when you look at the declining popularity of daily printed newspaper, and now, as a quick fix, some government men (or G-Men, as they were known in the 1930s when newspapers were in at the peak of popularity) want to come to the rescue.
I’ve got to agree with Jeff Jarvis, a professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism who joined me on a recent panel sponsored by the FCC to discuss the changing landscape of journalism and the potential role of the government: In a column entitled, “How NOT to Save Journalism,” he points out that “the barrier to entry into the media business has never been lower — and that means news can grow. “
Jarvis wrote: “The government should favor neither incumbents nor newcomers, but rather create a level playing field by helping every American get open, high-speed access to the Internet. That is the gateway to the real future of news and media. I believe that future is entrepreneurial, not institutional. The industry’s institutions have had 15 years since the start of the commercial Web, and we’ve seen how far they can come. What we need now are innovators — like my entrepreneurial journalism students — to invent new forms, structures, efficiencies and business models for news. But those entrepreneurs don’t need government help. They need to be left alone with the assurance they won’t be interfered with by” government regulators.
If you want to read why I say amen, click here