From a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on the future of journalism to a new tax cut for newspapers, policymakers nationwide are responding to the crisis facing the news business.
“It’s … a time of real hardship for the field of journalism. But it’s also true that your ultimate success as an industry is essential to the success of our democracy,” President Barack Obama told members of the White House Correspondents’ Association.
Thanks to a grant from Carnegie Corp., the USC Annenberg School for Communication’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy is launching a major new research project to document current and past government engagement in the news industry and assess new policy proposals.
USC Annenberg dean emeritus Geoffrey Cowan, the center’s director, is the principal investigator on the project. The research team, which includes doctoral students in economics and communication, is led by senior fellow David Westphal, former Washington editor for McClatchy Newspapers.
The project will examine a broad range of policy areas, including postal rates, tax policy, antitrust regulation, broadcast and cable regulation, and direct government support.
“Although a banking-style bailout would be rejected out of hand by those concerned with maintaining a free and independent press, there are other possibilities,” Cowan wrote in a recent op-ed co-authored with USC Annenberg journalism school director Geneva Overholser. “Since the start of the republic, the government has found creative ways to support the press.”
Initial research findings will be presented at the annual convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in August. A briefing for policymakers is planned for fall in Washington, D.C.
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