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Monday, February 16, 2009

Is Propaganda Good "Economic Development"?

Philadelphia Inquirer head honcho Brian Tierney has a response in the Wall Street Journal defending a state bailout of the Inky.  The Wall Street Journal had previously editorialized against a newspaper.  Tierney's letter is absurd:

While there is a lot of talk about "bailouts" in the media, our company is not looking for one. Our conversations with Gov. Ed Rendell were to determine what state economic development dollars might be available for a major Philadelphia company employing over 5,000 full- and part-time people.
So it isn't a "bailout," it is simply a gift of taxpayer money to a private company that is losing money and market share.  See the distinction?

Given the critical importance of newspapers to our democracy and the number of people we employ, it would be ludicrous to say that newspapers can't take advantage of generally available economic development dollars, but rather had to stand alone in one line while every other business in Pennsylvania was in the other line.
This "everybody else is doing it" logic is the justification for more bailout is hardly cutting it.  Bailouts are misguided public policy, as discussed here previously. Governor Rendell's "economic development" handouts have only undermined economic growth in Pennsylvania.  PA Pundit also blasts Tierney's economics

In fact, the overwhelming majority of our employees who would benefit from such economic development money have no influence on the editorial content of our newspapers and online properties. They are drivers, distributors, pressmen, advertising salespeople, mailers and paper handlers. These are all valuable, good jobs which our company wants to preserve.
How exactly does taxpayer subsidized printing and delivery of the Governor's favorite newspaper differ from government distribution of propaganda?

Mr. Tierney should preserve those jobs by finding ways to sell more papers, not by becoming another government marketing tool.  When a business model becomes threatened by new technologies (i.e. newspapers by the Internet, stagecoach manufacturing by the automobile), you can't just make the employees government workers and call it "economic development."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Naturally, newspaper companies need to justify receiving government money on a vague notion of patriotism. In reality, the intertwining of taxpayer funds and the media is highly unpatriotic; it violates the spirit of the 1st Amendment. If taxpayers wanted to support the paper, they would do so through a higher willingness to pay and more subscriptions.