>Washington, DC.- Newspapers in the US employ 0.2 percent of the nation’s labor force and generate 0.36 percent of the gross national product. Seeing these figures, someone can imagine that the contribution of this sector to the nation is not based on its direct impact on the US economy, but in its democracy.
Having a strong media industry is so important, that the first amendment of the US Constitution recognize it. “Congress shall make no law (…) abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. However, with this crisis out there, a democrat senator is promoting a bill he calls the Newspaper Revitalization Act that would treat newspapers as education nonprofit entities with a kind of tax status similar to churches, hospitals and public broadcasters.
In the past six month, five major American publishers have filed for bankruptcy. A week does not go by without another newspaper announcing it has problems to remain in circulation. Even the famous Boston Globe, a header of the New York Times group, is threatening to put end to its history if the employees fail to accept a pay cut in order to keep the newspaper afloat.
The bill, however, is not an innocent coincidence, considering that newspapers have the right to endorse candidates running for public office. During the last presidential campaign, this was one of the most coveted gifts a candidate’s teams could aspire to.
Obama’s administration is bailing out many sectors including the banking and carmakers industry, and it seems like this bill is some sort of help to the press industry.
The media has to survive without Government help. They should have done their homework a long time ago, adapting more quickly to the new communication world. They have to start thinking about the future—it’s not too late. Accepting help from the Government is a Trojan horse, which could end up killing independent journalism.