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.
Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro sees saving the local newspaper as his duty. But others think he and his colleagues are setting a worrisome precedent for government involvement in the U.S. press.
Nicastro represents Connecticut’s 79th assembly district, which includes Bristol, a city of about 61,000 people outside Hartford, the state capital. Its paper, The Bristol Press, may fold within days, along with The Herald in nearby New Britain.
That is because publisher Journal Register, in danger of being crushed under hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, says it cannot afford to keep them open anymore.
Nicastro and fellow legislators want the papers to survive, and petitioned the state government to do something about it. “The media is a vitally important part of America,” he said, particularly local papers that cover news ignored by big papers and television and radio stations.
To some experts, that sounds like a bailout, a word that resurfaced this year after the U.S. government agreed to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the automobile and financial sectors.
Won’t be long before a dying newspaper puts in a bid for some of the trillion-dollar stimulus package about to be rammed through Congress.
Fishwrap has its privileges…