CCLP director Geoffrey Cowan presented the center’s latest research on Public Policy and Funding the News as part of a two-day Federal Trade Commission workshop exploring how the Internet has affected journalism, held March 9-10 at the FTC headquarters in Washington, D.C.
At a time when the news industry faces its greatest financial crisis in decades, the government simultaneously has dramatically reduced its historic monetary support for the industry. Cowan noted that, despite extraordinary government support dating from the nation’s colonial era, few are fully aware of this longstanding tradition of subsidies and tax breaks, or of the ways in which they are now disappearing. For instance, postal subsidies for news publications have declined by more than 80 percent over the past four decades. Meanwhile, mandated public and legal notices have long been an important source of revenue, but now increasingly are moving to electronic media as cash-strapped government agencies at all levels are asking courts and legislative bodies to allow them to switch to Internet publication.
At the FTC workshop, Cowan outlined highlighted these and other findings from CCLP’s extensive news and funding research on this important subject, as well as a suggested framework for future policy consideration.
Other panelists at the workshop included News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt, Knight Foundation Vice President Eric Newton, Congressman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Newspaper Association of America Vice Chair Mark Contreras as well as representatives from major new media organizations, academic institutions and other leading experts.