Local Journalism Centers: Government's Backdoor to the Newspaper Business

A March 25 article in the New York Times by Elizabeth Jensen announced the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is setting up seven regional reporting projects, called Local Journalism Centers. Each center will hire editors and reporters to work on local issues using federal funds from public broadcasting. The Centers represent the government’s first, small steps into the journalism business.

A recent Business and Media Institute study examined how many liberal journalists and politicians have been advocating for a federal bailout for the struggling newspaper industry. The report pointed out that government involvement is wrong and is clearly in violation of the 1st amendment, since government aid equals government control.

When General Motors was bailed out, Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner was ousted. A large share of Chrysler was put under union control. The government is still demanding salary control over even those financial institutions that paid back the TARP money. It is impossible to imagine that, given a stake in the news media, the government wouldn’t engage in the same arbitrary behavior.

The BMI study stated, “One cannot have a successful democracy without a free press.” But setting up the Local Journalism Centers, is not free press. Jensen reported that the CPB will give $7.5 million in over two years. Another $3 million will come from local stations.

CPB’s president, Patricia Harrison, did state eventually the centers would be “self-sustaining.” But no timeline was given.