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Build Back Better would give billions of dollars to “local” newspapers
Since 1970, the number of daily print newspapers in America has fallen by almost 30%.
I believe newspapers have been disappearing because of shorter attention spans, weaker communities, increasing corporatization, and more people reading for free online.
As part of the Build Back Better bill, Democrats want the government to give at least $12,500 to every “local” newspaper employee in the country.
Recently they changed it to where over the course of five years the federal government would give “local” newspapers an $85,000 payroll tax credit per employee.
The Joint Committee on Taxation pegs the cost at $1.7 billion over 10 years. Why is the cost staggered over 10 years, therefore, forcing future Americans who had no say in the matter to pay for a subsidy that expired long ago?
San Fransisco Congressman Ro Khanna [D] defended the legislation by saying,
That the money is actually going to go to rural newspapers. A lot of those newspapers may have a conservative slant. I’m for helping rural newspapers in this country. I’m for helping community papers. It’s not going to the NYT or The Washington Post or the big national papers, but I think every community in this country should have their local paper.
But Ro Khanna has not read the Build Back Better bill. No legislator has! So it’s understandable he doesn’t know how the bill is written, but he shouldn’t speak with such certainty about something to which he had only read the bullets points.
If he actually read the bill it’s clearly not just for “rural” newspapers. It’s for any newspaper with less than 750 employees, which means outside of the Top 10 that’s virtually every newspaper in the country with the vast majority of whom existing in cities and owned by massive media conglomerates.
In judging legislation, one also shouldn’t view it in a vacuum but consider it alongside everything else the government already does. Does adding an additional responsibility to the federal government (funding conglomerates’ “local journalists”) make sense when it can’t even competently carry out its basic constitutional duties?
And let’s be honest here, Democrats.
The media is overwhelmingly Democrat. According to FEC data, 88% of journalists and 91% of editors are Democrats.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 500 newspaper endorsements whereas the would-be-winner received 28, which of those 28 only two had circulations above 100,000 readers.
So by Democrats giving billions of taxpayer dollars to the newspaper industry, Democrats are overwhelmingly subsidizing their supporters. Imagine the Left’s outrage if a Republican president gave $1.7 billion to talk radio.
Build Back Better is of, by, for Democrats.
Democrats want to keep their supporters typing away at your expense! Any real journalist would call the government out for subverting the meaning of a “free” and “independent” press.
Once virtually all of America’s newspapers are subsidized by the US government then how many punches will they pull? Once their workforce becomes dependent on Uncle Sam then in 5 years won’t they have to start lobbying the federal government to renew the subsidies to avoid massive layoffs? Won’t politicians feel a lot of political pressure to agree, especially when so few Americans seem to care and the ones that do are America’s most outspoken?
As a conservative, I believe in a strong local independent press!
But the federal government subsidizing incompetence will perpetuate incompetence.
The media likes to blame the decline of newspaper readers on the internet to obfuscate their unwillingness to change with the times, but clearly, the internet isn’t all or even mostly to blame.
US-based papers generated $23 billion in revenue in 2021. Clearly, there’s a lot of money to be made.
And 54% of newspaper subscribers said they prefer print whereas only 28% said they prefer digital so there’s clearly a large appetite for print-based media!
In addition, there’s a lot of health benefits from paper-reading such as it increases reading comprehension, no pop-up distractions, no Big Tech company trying to game your dopamine levels, and it serves as a healthy break from staring at a screen.
The world’s largest democracy, for example, has seen an increase in its newspapers from 5,767 in 2013 to 7,871 in 2015 and an increase of over 60% in their circulation over the last decade.
The internet offers new challenges, but also new opportunities like digital subscriptions and online targeted advertising.
As The Atlantic published,
Increasing evidence suggests that the local newspaper business may still be viable, simply as a business. What it can no longer do is provide the super-profit levels that private equity groups expect from their holdings, and that they demand as a condition of even letting the papers exist.
There are so many high-quality writers out there who’d be willing to take an annual salary of $10,000 to write a story a week, which amounts to $161 dollars per story. I get paid virtually nothing to write this and not to brag, but this is the most in-depth article on this topic you’ll find anywhere on the internet.
There are so many retirees, young up-and-comers, and middle-aged people who already have a full-time job, but who would like to write on the side as a way to make a few extra bucks and contribute/connect more deeply with their local community as a “sportswriter,” “political columnist,” “dating columnist,” etc.
For struggling papers, the playbook looks to be clear: cater to our shorter-attention spans by writing shorter stories and having fewer pages and therefore charging lower prices with a bigger profit. If a paper was genuinely “local” then instead of passing their 11% profit (average newspaper profit) to our coastal elite they can reinvest back into their paper.
And then to strengthen local newspapers we can’t ignore the local economy.
Local newspapers used to get 80% of their revenue from local business advertisers, but small business owners are suffering because as they say… taxes and regulations are too d*mn high! It also doesn’t help that their big business competitors like Amazon and Walmart get subsidized by the government and pay much less in taxes as a percent of their revenue.
Democrat policies hurt local businesses, which then hurts local newspapers, and so instead of taking their foot off of main street’s neck, Democrats apply even more pressure to get even more money for their media supporters, therefore, exacerbating the problem they helped create.
Democrats want newspapers to be “independent” and “free” in the same way they want Americans: beholden to corporate and dependent on government.
Make all the news fit for the powerful.