The founders knew the best check on government was the ability of the people and press to speak out against the government and its representatives freely. At the time of our founding, the press (newspapers, pamphlets, letters, etc…) were the only organized vehicles to speak through at the time. Without the “press” of the time, the general public’s ability to get information about issues would have been crippled if not for the traditional means of communications was not protected.
Subsidizing the “business” of the press was not their intention. The only consideration for the founders was protecting liberty by protecting the ability of individuals and organizations like the press to speak out against an oppressive government, and by limiting the power of the government to control the speech against the same government. To suggest that the government should have any role in ensuring a media company’s success in the market place is a total distortion of original intent.
Today, we have the internet, radio, TV, all what the founders would have labeled as the press. Every one of the new medium unknown to the founders at the time is a support for the original intent which was protecting speech and limiting the power of government. Because the traditional press has squandered their prestige by becoming political arms of party politics is the reason they are failing. They have greater competition, yes, but the real reason for their failure is their drifting from truth and facts to opinion and advocacy. Once you take a side you limit your audience. A very simple concept to understand.
So for the tax payer to subsidize a press that is no longer objective and separate from the government it is supposed to “protect” us from is in absolute contradiction to the original intent of our founders. We don’t need the traditional press, although I believe they still have an opportunity to reform themselves, we have what the founders were trying to truly protect which was the ability to speak out against our government through the expanded mediums we have today. Today’s technology has made speech safer from the perspective of holding government accountable. That is why the argument has shifted to protecting the internet from government control. Because the internet is more like the original press our founders wanted protected. A free interchange of ideas without government influence.
Let the traditional press models fail if they can’t compete, we have an outlet to speak against our government. Once the government is subsidizing the traditional press, we no longer have an independent advocate protecting our liberties. They will become an arm of the government, and that is definitely not what the founders intended when protecting the press in our constitution.
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