Advertisement

The United States of America: Unfounded Fears of Press Subsidies

  • Victor PickardEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Media Business and Innovation book series (MEDIA)

Abstract

One of the central assumptions of US political discourse is that state-funded media subsidies are deeply antithetical to American values, and democratic practice generally. This assumption is rarely challenged, though a good deal of historical evidence gives us reason to doubt it. Not only are various media subsidies firmly established in American traditions, but the historical record shows that both in the USA and across the globe, press subsidies are compatible with democratic self-governance. Still, misconceptions about subsidies abound in the USA and continue to impede rational debates about an important policy option—an option that might be the last remaining systemic alternative to the failing model of ad revenue-supported journalism. The following chapter provides a brief overview of past and present American press subsidies. Drawing from historical and international research, the chapter sketches a political economic rationale for subsidizing media and concludes with some suggestions for future policy trajectories.

Keywords

Public Good Market Failure Federal Communication Commission Public Subsidy Public Broadcasting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Audit Bureau of Circulations. (2012, September). The top U.S. newspapers for September 2012. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://accessabc.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/the-top-u-s-newspapers-for-september-2012/
  2. Baines, D. (2013). United Kingdom: Subsidies and democratic deficits in local news. In P. Murschetz (Ed.), State aid for newspapers. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  3. Baker, C. E. (2011). Testimony before the subcommittee on courts and competition policy, committee on the judiciary, house of representatives, congress of the United States, a new age for newspapers, diversity of voices, competition, and the internet. In R. McChesney & V. Pickard (Eds.), Will the last reporter please turn out the lights: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it (pp. 128–130). New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bator, F. M. (1958). The anatomy of market failure. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 72(3), 351–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benson, R. (2010). What makes for a critical press: A case study of U.S. and French immigration news coverage. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 15, 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benson, R. (2011). Public funding and journalistic independence: What does research tell us? In R. McChesney & V. Pickard (Eds.), Will the last reporter please turn out the lights: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it (pp. 314–319). New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  7. Benson, R., & Hallin, D. (2007). How states, markets and globalization shape the news: The French and U.S. national press, 1965–97. European Journal of Communication, 22(1), 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benson, R., & Powers, M. (2011). Public media and political independence: Lessons for the future of journalism from around the world. Washington, DC: Free Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cooper, M. (2011). The future of journalism: Addressing pervasive market failure with public policy. In R. McChesney & V. Pickard (Eds.), Will the last reporter please turn out the lights: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it (pp. 320–339). New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cowan, G., & Westphal, D. (2011). The Washington-Madison solution. In R. McChesney & V. Pickard (Eds.), Will the last reporter please turn out the lights: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it (pp. 133–337). New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  11. Curran, J. (2010). Future of journalism. Journalism Studies, 11(4), 464–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Curran, J., Iyengar, S., Lund, A. B., & Salovaara-Moring, I. (2009). Media system, public knowledge and democracy. European Journal of Communication, 24, 5–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Downie, L., & Schudson, M. (2011). The reconstruction of American journalism. In R. McChesney & V. Pickard (Eds.), Will the last reporter please turn out the lights: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it (pp. 55–90). New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  14. Edmonds, R., Guskin, E., Rosenstiel, T., & Mitchell, A. (2012). Newspapers: By the numbers. The Pew research Center’s project for excellence in journalism: The state of the News media 2012. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://stateofthemedia.org
  15. Federal Trade Commission. (2010). Potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism (discussion draft). Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  16. Goodman, E. P. (2002). Bargains in the information marketplace: The use of government subsidies to regulate new media. Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law, 1, 217–293.Google Scholar
  17. Greenberg, B. (2012). A public press? Evaluating the viability of government subsidies for the newspaper industry. UCLA Entertainment Law Review, 19(1), 189–244.Google Scholar
  18. Greenslade, R. (2009, March 27). Forget the Tories, let’s find a new business model to save local newspapers. The Guardian. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2009/mar/27/local-newspapers-trinity-mirror
  19. Hadenius, S., & Weibull, L. (1999). The Swedish newspaper system in the late 1990s: Tradition and transition. Nordicom Review, 1, 129–152.Google Scholar
  20. Hallin, D., & Mancini, P. (2004). Comparing media systems: Three models of media and politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hamilton, J. (2006). All the news that’s fit to sell. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  22. John, R. (1995). Spreading the news: The American postal system from Franklin to Morse. Cambridge, UK: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lennett, B., Glaisyer, T., & Meinrath, S. (2012). Public media, spectrum policy, and rethinking public interest obligations for the 21st century. Washington, DC: New America Foundation.Google Scholar
  24. McChesney, R., & Nichols, J. (2010). The death and life of American journalism: The media revolution that will begin the world again. New York, NY: Nation Books.Google Scholar
  25. McChesney, R., & Pickard, V. (Forthcoming). News media as political institutions. In K. Kenski & K. Hall Jamieson (Eds.), Handbook of political communication theories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Medema, S. G. (2007). The hesitant hand: Mill, Sidgwick, and the evolution of the theory of market failure. History of Political Economy, 39(3), 331–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Murschetz, P. (1998). State support for the daily press in Europe: Austria, France, Norway and Sweden compared. European Journal of Communication, 13, 291–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nielsen, R. K., & Linnebank, G. (2011). Public support for the media: A six-country overview of direct and indirect subsidies. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/publications/risj-reports.html
  29. Nilikantan, R. (2010). Postal subsidies. Public policy & funding the news. Working Paper (Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, USC Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism). Accessed February 28, 2013, from http://fundingthenews.usc.edu/related_research/1_Carnegie_PostalSubsidies.pdf
  30. Nordenson, B. (2007). The Uncle Sam solution: Can the government help the press? Should it? Columbia Journalism Review, 46(3), 37–41.Google Scholar
  31. Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. (2010, January 11). The study of the news ecosystem of one American city. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/how_news_happens
  32. Pfanner, E. (2010, May 16). For U.S. newspaper industry, an example in Germany. The New York Times. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/17/business/media/17iht-cache17.html
  33. Pickard, V. (2006). Assessing the radical democracy of Indymedia: Discursive, technical and institutional constructions. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 23(1), 19–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pickard, V. (2010). Reopening the postwar settlement for U.S. media: The origins and implications of the social contract between media, the state, and the polity. Communication, Culture and Critique, 3, 170–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pickard, V. (2011a). Revisiting the road not taken: A social democratic vision of the press. In R. McChesney & V. Pickard (Eds.), Will the last reporter please turn out the lights: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it. New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  36. Pickard, V. (2011b). Can government support the press? Historicizing and internationalizing a policy approach to the journalism crisis. The Communication Review, 14(2), 73–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pickard, V. (2013). Social democracy or corporate libertarianism? Conflicting media policy narratives in the wake of market failure. Communication Theory, 23(4), 336–355.Google Scholar
  38. Pickard, V., Stearns, J., & Aaron, C. (2009). Saving the news: Toward a national journalism strategy. In Freepress (Ed.), Changing media: Public interest policies for the digital age (pp. 187–240). Washington, DC: Free Press.Google Scholar
  39. Powers, S. (2011). U.S. international broadcasting: An untapped resource for ethnic and domestic news organizations. In R. McChesney & V. Pickard (Eds.), Will the last reporter please turn out the lights: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it (pp. 138–150). New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  40. Samuelson, P. (1954). The pure theory of public expenditure. Review of Economics and Statistics, 36, 387–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schizer, D. (2011). Subsidizing the press. Journal of Legal Analysis, 3(1), 1–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Skogerbø, E. (1997). The press subsidy system in Norway: Controversial past – unpredictable future? European Journal of Communication, 12(1), 99–118. doi: 10.1177/0267323197012001005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Starr, P. (2004). Creation of the media. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  44. Starr, P. (2011). Goodbye to the age of newspapers (hello to a new era of corruption). In R. McChesney & V. Pickard (Eds.), Will the last reporter please turn out the lights: The collapse of journalism and what can be done to fix it (pp. 18–37). New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  45. Stiglitz, J. (1989). Markets, market failures, and development. American Economic Review, 79(2), 197–203.Google Scholar
  46. The Manship School of Mass Communication. (2004, March 20). News in the public interest: A free and subsidized press. The Breaux Symposium. Baton Rouge, LA: Manship School of Mass Communications, The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://uiswcmsweb.prod.lsu.edu/manship/ReillyCenter/files/item25405.pdf
  47. Toynbee, P. (2009, March 24). This is an emergency. Act now, or local news will die. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/24/regional-newspapers-lay-offs
  48. Trogen, P. C. (2005). Public goods. In D. Robbins (Ed.), Handbook of public sector economics. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  49. Waldman, S. (2011). The information needs of communities: The changing media landscape in a broadband age. Washington, DC: Federal Communications Commission. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://www.fcc.gov/infoneedsreport.Google Scholar
  50. Weed, M. C. (2012, September 21). U.S. public diplomacy: Legislative proposals to amend prohibitions on disseminating materials to domestic audiences. Congressional Research Service. Accessed February 2, 2013, from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/R42754.pdf

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Annenberg School for CommunicationUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations