Free Press Presents New Policies to Save the News

New report calls for national strategy to contend with the crisis in journalism
Contact Info: 
Moira Vahey, Free Press, (202) 265-1490 x31

WASHINGTON -- Today, Free Press released Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy, a new report on how the government should respond to the current crisis in journalism. The report provides an in-depth analysis of ideas and proposals being debated around the future of the news business and advocates for a range of short- and long-term strategies.

"Traditional media have been battered by a perfect storm, as the rise of the Internet and the disappearance of traditional ad dollars collided with the economic downturn," said Craig Aaron, senior program director of Free Press and co-author of the report. "But many of the media industry's wounds are self-inflicted, the result of bad business decisions and failed strategy, aided by idle regulators who looked the other way. We need a new approach."

Read Saving the News: http://www.freepress.net/files/saving_the_news.pdf

The report analyzes the collapse of the traditional business model for news and describes the alternatives emerging in its place. The report argues that new policies are needed to sustain vital professional journalism while embracing digital technology and the power of the Internet.

Saving the News identifies five promising models that should be top priorities for policymakers:

  • New Ownership Structures. Encouraging the establishment of nonprofit and low-profit news organizations through tax-exempt and low-profit limited liability company (L3C) models.
  • New Incentives. Creating tax incentives and revising bankruptcy laws to encourage local, diverse, nonprofit, low-profit and employee ownership.
  • Journalism Jobs Program. Funding training and retraining for novice and veteran journalists in multimedia and investigative reporting.
  • R&D Fund for Journalism Innovation. Investing in innovative projects and experimenting to identify and nurture new models.
  • New Public Media. Transforming public media into a world-class noncommercial news operation utilizing new technology and focused on community service.

"We are venturing into uncharted territory," said Victor Pickard, Free Press senior research fellow and co-author of the report. "The collapse of advertising-supported journalism may leave whole sections of the population without a fully functional press, and that is simply unacceptable for a democracy. We need policies to help keep reporters on the beat, while also investing in long-term models for public service journalism."

Saving the News calls for a far-reaching national journalism strategy built around the principles of protecting the First Amendment, producing quality coverage, providing adversarial perspectives, promoting public accountability, and prioritizing innovation.

"There is no magic bullet," said Josh Stearns, program manager of Free Press and co-author of the report. "Answering the crisis in journalism will require a menu of responses, not a one-size-fits-all solution. But now is the time to engage the public in the debate over the policies that will reshape the future of news."

The new report is included in Changing Media: Public Interest Policies for the Digital Age, a book that will be released at the Free Press Summit on May 14. For more information about this event, visit www.freepress.net/summit

Read Saving the News: http://www.freepress.net/files/saving_the_news.pdf

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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good