For Journalism: A Ray of Hope

Many people in my profession–journalism–have been scratching their heads for the past 10 years or so, looking for a way to save the daily newspaper, regardless of the format that emerges.

Now, we have the state of New Jersey with the newest–and from what I see one of the most workable–effort: tax support for community journalism. The NYTimes has a piece about it here.

Essentially, “The legislation sets aside $5 million from the sale of old public television licenses, creating a nonprofit consortium that would fund reporting projects and bolster civic engagement.” That’s not a lot of money, but it’s a beginning and could create a test model to see if it can/will work. The major concern, of course, is government interference, which has always been at the top of the charts of any government support of public information (including Public TV and Radio, which went through a control crisis during the Bush Administration).

The Trump Administration with its strong anti-press pronouncements (“fake news,” “an enemy of the people”) has led many newspapers to a surge in subscriptions, but it isn’t enough to save the industry. What is desperately needed is a delivery system that isn’t expensive (Trump’s 30 percent–soon to be 50 percent–tariff on newsprint from Canada is shocking), polluting (paper and ink) and is more immediate. On-line journalism can be instantaneous and its video component can be a live feed from the site of the news.

I was at a book party the other night (Mary Bishop’s “Don’t You Ever”) and the room was filled with current and past employees of Roanoke’s daily paper. I suggested more than once that those in the room could put out a news section overnight that would embarrass the local daily with its quality and depth. Point being: there are a lot of journalists out there who love journalism and would jump at the chance to get back to it, even if only part-time.


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