Local news is dying, and the only people stepping up to save it are evil, dirty, Republican corporate businessmen.
So Joe Biden and the Democrats want to “save” local news by giving some employees a payroll tax cut so that local news won’t be dependent on corporate raiders who hate unions and actually want their newspaper to turn a profit, of all things.
The payroll tax cut will cost you and me about $1.8 billion — a drop in the bucket when you consider that the measure is folded into the gargantuan $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill. But the idea of the United States government handing out money to the people who are supposed to be watching said government to keep them from robbing us blind and doing all sorts of nasty stuff hasn’t gotten much pushback from elitist reporters.
The help would come in the form of a payroll tax credit for companies that employ eligible local journalists. The measure would allow newspapers, digital news outlets and radio and television stations to claim a tax credit of $25,000 the first year and $15,000 the next four years for up to 1,500 journalists.
It’s a response to growing alarm that the elimination of newsroom jobs is leaving communities without access to critical information. The concern has grown since a hedge fund with a reputation of ruthless cost-cutting acquired Tribune, one of the nation’s largest newspaper chains, in May. Already, about one-fourth of the country’s newspapers have closed and half of local journalism jobs have evaporated in the past 15 years, according to research from the University of North Carolina.
What Democrats are upset about is that the local news outlets won’t be spouting the talking points that the party is pushing in Washington. Instead, “ruthless cost-cutting” might be used to actually get newspapers and TV stations to make money.
“You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results,” said Bill Murray’s character in Ghostbusters. Indeed, this notion that newspapers are holy ground and reporters are high priests of some cult has got to disappear if any newspapers are going to survive.
Being a “journalist” is not a sacred calling, like the priesthood. It’s a job. Or, a career if you like. Why newspapers should be the exception to the rule of American capitalism has not yet been explained in any coherent way.
According to Pew Research, just 16% of Americans get their news from newspapers. Meanwhile, 80% get their news from digital services — social media, news websites, their phones, etc. The need for newspapers was self-evident when they were the quickest way to find out what was happening across town or across the world.
But newspapers are dying because they aren’t needed anymore. Trying to save them from extinction is akin to begging early 20th-century governments to save the mom-and-pop grocery store or wheelwrights or carriage makers. Those were also important industries that died when the world moved on and began to ride around in automobiles or shop at supermarkets.
Reporters, editors, writers — anyone associated with a newspaper — are angry and fearful. They are making the ludicrous argument that the American people won’t know what’s happening in the world unless they can read it in a local newspaper. Or that the people won’t think about an issue in the “proper” way. Or perhaps they’re worried that the American people won’t think about the world the way they’re told to by the wise people who write and edit local news.
God forbid a nation of independent thinkers!
Print media is doomed. That’s been evident for 20 years or more. Biden should save our money and spend it on something useful. A couple of F-22 stealth fighters would do nicely.