Thursday, May 14, 2009

Free Press Summit: Changing Media

Over at the Newseum today, the media reform advocacy group Free Press is holding a summit called Changing Media, where it is advocating for adoption of a "national journalism strategy."

Among the group's priorities is the promotion of private, nonprofit models to promote journalism. But its agenda also includes closer government oversight of media ownership and government support of journalism, which it says ahould be regarded as a public service rather than a commodity.

The comments of Craig Aaron, Free Press' senior program director, are worth a read. Among other things, he calls for an AmeriCorps-style Journalism Jobs program, a $50 million government-backed "journalism "R&D fund" and new public media "with an overarching commitment to newsgathering and community service." If nothing else, it is an ambitious list.

"It’s important to remember here that news has always been subsidized," Aaron says. "But just because advertising no longer subsidize (sic) journalism, does not mean that we no longer require news. So we need to find new policies to support the media. And, yes, the government will probably have to be involved."

For those with time on their hands, Fress Press' report, Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy, is worth a read, too. It's a dense 48 pages, and the title might be a major turn-off for free-market types. But it surveys the landscape of journalism business models - and entry points for government - as well as any document out there.

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