John Nichols e Robert W. McChesney – que devem lançar ainda este ano o livro “Saving Journalism: The Soul of Democracy” – publicaram, na edição de Abril do The Nation (já disponível online desde o final da semana passada), um texto sobre a morte e vida do grande jornal norte-americano (assim mesmo, ao contrário do comum, porque a sua proposta é a de um investimento público numa actividade que nos apresentam como sendo de serviço público).
Let’s begin with the crisis. In a nutshell, media corporations, after running journalism into the ground, have determined that news gathering and reporting are not profit-making propositions. So they’re jumping ship.
The place to begin crafting solutions is with the understanding that the economic downturn did not cause the crisis in journalism; nor did the Internet. The economic collapse and Internet have greatly accentuated and accelerated a process that can be traced back to the 1970s, when corporate ownership and consolidation of newspapers took off. It was then that managers began to balance their books and to satisfy the demand from investors for ever-increasing returns by cutting journalists and shutting news bureaus.
We begin with the notion that journalism is a public good, that it has broad social benefits far beyond that between buyer and seller. Like all public goods, we need the resources to get it produced. This is the role of the state and public policy. It will require a subsidy and should be regarded as similar to the education system or the military in that regard. Only a nihilist would consider it sufficient to rely on profit-seeking commercial interests or philanthropy to educate our youth or defend the nation from attack. With the collapse of the commercial news system, the same logic applies. Just as there came a moment when policy-makers recognized the necessity of investing tax dollars to create a public education system to teach our children, so a moment has arrived at which we must recognize the need to invest tax dollars to create and maintain news gathering, reporting and writing with the purpose of informing all our citizens.