October 23, 2008: “New York Times bonds near junk territory…Anyone smelling a bailout plea coming on?”
November 11, 2008: “The newspaper bailout countdown clock: I think it’s time to start the newspaper bailout countdown clock. A few weeks ago, I joked that it wouldn’t be long until the junky New York Times started crawling to the government for a handout. Now, with the Fed waving its magic wand and redefining American Express as a “bank holding company,” with insurers and Hollywood getting a cut of the Crap Sandwich 2.0, with indebted state governments looking for help, and with China lobbying and with automakers poised to get a bigger piece of the action, my joke isn’t so funny anymore.”
December 1, 2008: “The newspaper bailout countdown clock: It’s here! Back in October, I joked that it wouldn’t be long before the junk-bond New York Times was lining up for a government bailout. Last month, I followed up with the launch of the Newspaper Bailout Countdown Clock in a post about Tribune Media’s financial woes. Well, it has come to pass: Democrats have proposed a newspaper bailout in Connecticut…”
December 3, 2008: New moochers in town: Newspapers.
January 1, 2009: First “See, I told you so” post of 2009! “I launched the Newspaper Bailout Countdown Clock on Nov. 11, reported on Connecticut’s move to prop up ailing dead-tree dailies on Dec. 1, and followed up with a column on the coming government rescues for the MSM on Dec. 3. And now, here comes Reuters, heralding the new year with this: Government aid could save U.S. newspapers, spark debate.”
With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.
“This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat,” said Senator Benjamin Cardin.
A Cardin spokesman said the bill had yet to attract any co-sponsors, but had sparked plenty of interest within the media, which has seen plunging revenues and many journalist layoffs.
Cardin’s Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.
Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.
Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt, and contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible.
Voila: The Fishwrap Rescue and Recovery Act of 2009.