“The Federal Trade Commission says it wants to save journalism. I’m not sure who asked it to,” Jeff Jarvis reports for The New York Post. “In a just-released ‘staff discussion draft’ of ‘potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism,’ the agency only circles its wagons around old newspapers and their fading business models.”
“I testified before these untechnocrats and told them about my research at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism into the emerging ecosystem of news,” Jarvis reports. “We found profitable hyperlocal bloggers selling $200,000 in ads per year. And we built new, less expensive business models for news (at newsinnovation.com). But that’s not mentioned, either.”
Instead, the FTC staff declares defeat in the search for business models so it may explore many government interventions, including:
• Expanding copyright law and restricting the doctrine of fair comment to benefit legacy publishers.
• Granting antitrust exemptions to allow publishers to collude on pricing to consumers and to business partners.
• Giving news organizations tax exemptions.
• Subsidizing news organizations by increasing government funding to public broadcasting; establishing an AmeriCorps to pay reporters; giving news companies tax credits for employing journalists; creating a national fund for local news, and giving the press an increased postal subsidy.
“To its credit, the FTC does ask how to pay for all this. So the staffers speculated about what I’ll dub the iPad tax — a 5 percent surcharge on consumer electronics to raise $4 billion for news. They also consider a tax on broadcast spectrum and even on advertising,” Jarvis reports. “Most dangerous of all, the FTC considers a doctrine of ‘proprietary facts,’ as if anyone should gain the right to restrict the flow of information just as the information is opening it up. Copyright law protects the presentation of news but no one owns facts — and if anyone did, you could be forbidden from sharing them. How does that serve free speech?”
Jarvis writes, “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… But those entrepreneurs don’t need government help. They need to be left alone with the assurance they won’t be interfered with by the FTC — or the FCC, which has its own hearings and reports on the future of journalism. ‘Get off our lawn,’ I testified to both agencies in Washington. That didn’t make it into the report.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: “Our government has become too responsive to trivial or ephemeral concerns, often at the expense of more important concerns or an erosion of our liberty, and it has made policy priorities more dependent on where TV journalists happen to point their cameras… As a nation we have lost our sense of tragedy, a recognition that bad things happen to good people. A nation that expects the government to prevent churches from burning, to control the price of bread or gasoline, to secure every job, and to find some villain for every dramatic accident, risks an even larger loss of life and liberty.” – William A. Niskanen
“Information is the currency of democracy.” – Thomas Jefferson
“One way to make sure crime doesn’t pay would be to let the government run it.” – Ronald Reagan
“You know why there are so many whitefish in the Yellowstone River? Because the Fish and Game people have never done anything to help them.” – Russell Chatham