I guess I could say that this is a Ham family affair, because the hat tips for both halves come from them. First, let’s take the Newsbusters way-back machine back 20 years (H/T – Mary Katharine Ham), back before blogs, back to the dawn of conservative media, and back to the time when “alternative” media meant “Communist”. CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather was spoiling for a fight with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, and, along with politics producer Richard Cohen, decided to ambush Bush on live TV over Iran-Contra with the 12th and last in a series of candidate profiles. Needless to say, that sort of backfired (transcript courtesy RatherBiased.com). The actions of Rather were so egregious that the Media Research Center quoted Sam Donaldson (a hack in his own right) as saying, “Rather went too far….I don’t think we can get to a situation where we make — on our own authority — accusations.”
We all know what happened in the succeeding 20 years; the “Old Media” turned even farther to the left and the remainder all-but-abandoned the pretense of impartiality, the New Media (talk radio, blogs, and conservative forums) rose up to fill that void, and as a result, the readership, profitability and ultimately the stock prices of “Old Media” companies collapsed.
That brings us to the World Economic Forum in Davros, Switzerland. Yesterday, Columbia University (yes, that Columbia University, home of the Columbia School of Journalism) President Lee Bollinger announced his support for government subsidies for “Old Media” (H/T – Jon Ham).
If you were wondering about the position of the Columbia School of Journalism’s dean, Nick Lemann, Forbes’ Carl Lavin has that disappointment. The upshot: “Right now the mismatch between the social mission of journalism and the market support for that mission seems to be growing, so I think we should explore other means of support for serious journalism. Per the above, these can be, and generally have been in the US, policy interventions that amount to indirect rather than direct government subsidies. But I’m not against subsidies per se, if we can establish BBC-like safeguards of editorial independence.”
I guess they learned nothing over the last 20 years.
Cross-posted at the TownHall version of this place.