The Corner

Should Newpapers Be Subsidized?

Michael Kinsley has an interesting op-ed on the topic in the Washington Post today.

He writes:

Few industries in this country have been as coddled as newspapers. The government doesn’t actually write them checks, as it does to farmers and now to banks, insurance companies and automobile manufacturers. But politicians routinely pay court to local newspapers the way other industries pay court to politicians.

Yet with the internet, newspapers found themselves in troubles. Big troubles. What should we do? He asks:

How about nothing? Capitalism is a “perennial gale of creative destruction” (Joseph Schumpeter). Industries come and go. A newspaper industry that was a ward of the state or of high-minded foundations would be sadly compromised. And for what?

You may love the morning ritual of the paper and coffee, as I do, but do you seriously think that this deserves a subsidy? Sorry, but people who have grown up around computers find reading the news on paper just as annoying as you find reading it on a screen. (All that ink on your hands and clothes.) If your concern is grander — that if we don’t save traditional newspapers we will lose information vital to democracy — you are saying that people should get this information whether or not they want it. That’s an unattractive argument: shoving information down people’s throats in the name of democracy.

His conclusion:

If General Motors goes under, there will still be cars. And if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news.

Read more here.  

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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