Jul 1 2009

Proposed Cure: More of the Disease

Some voices in the corporate media have pushed for government intervention to relax ownership restrictions in order to allow for the creation of even bigger media conglomerates—which seems a bit like a hangover victim’s thirst for the hair of the dog that bit them. New York Times reporter Carr (5/9/09) confessed that while as a younger reporter he viewed media consolidation as “the dark overlords of the newspaper industry” meeting to “decid[e] how to set prices and the news agenda at the same time,” at this moment of crisis, “I’m hoping that meeting takes place. I’ll even buy the cigars.”

Media lawyers Bruce Sanford and Bruce Brown (Washington Post, 5/16/09), dismissing limits on media monopolies as “outdated rules belong[ing] to an era when the Web was a home for spiders,” called for “antitrust immunity” for newspapers because “most individual news sites can’t go it alone by walling off their content for fees—readers will simply jump to sites that are still free.” If the goal is a world where there is no journalism available for free online, though, it’s not clear that an antitrust exemption would be sufficient; perhaps newspaper owners should be empowered to break the kneecaps of publishers who don’t join the cartel?

This piece is a sidebar to Fearing the Future: The corporate press makes the case for being saved.