13 May 2009 8:41 am   //   Filed under: Media

Newspaper bailout? Bad idea.

I watched the Senate committee hearing on newspapers and journalism last week. Interesting to watch David Simon (who I think is a rock star) and Ariana Huffington (who I find annoying) fight about what’s killing journalism and how to save it. (Neither of them has plans that will work.)

The fact that the hearing happened at all (it was led by Sen. John Kerry) is a sign that we’re moving closer to some government action to help newspapers. Unless everyone has lost their minds, there won’t be a newspaper bailout. With government aid comes regulation, and regulating journalism would violate all of the traditions of American newspapers. The press needs to sort out its financial problems independently, or it will be doomed to forever beg for handouts.

Government intervention in newspapers has a history of failure. Richard Nixon signed the Newspaper Preservation Act in 1970 which allowed troubled newspapers in two-newspaper cites to enter into JOAs. How’d that work out for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rocky Mountain News?