The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Dec 15, 2009

5 ways the government could help journalism

Posted by Knight Foundation

Eric Newton, VP of Knight Foundation's Journalism Program, recently spoke at a Federal Trade Commission workshop on how journalism will survive the digital age. At a moment when the potential role of government in supporting journalism is being discussed, Eric listed five examples of policies the government could adjust to help a new journalism ecosystem flourish. Some snippets:

Public media. A lot of the government money that flows to public media is status quo money. Not good enough. [...]


Nonprofit digital startups. Our old rules don't treat them fairly. Tax rules make it hard to switch to being a nonprofit, or a L3C. [...]

University journalism. Students everywhere are showing they can do great journalism. (By the way, if the nation's 200,000 journalism and mass communications students spent just 10 percent of their time doing actual journalism, that would more than replace the journalism lost in the past 10 years from the elimination of jobs by badly run news businesses.) But our old rules don't treat student journalists fairly. [...]

The government itself is a huge producer of mass media today. But in general not a very good one. For the most part, local, state and national government can't seem to use the new technology to do a better job obeying its own freedom of information laws, not even on the people's web sites that it now runs. [...]

Read the full piece for the fifth (and most significant) government policy Eric calls for. You can also read the rest of the testimony from the FTC's future of journalism workshop.


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