November 26, 2008

Dead-Tree Media Op-Ed Writer In Favor of Newspaper Bailout

Via Hot Air's headlines comes Kathleen Parker's self-serving idea:

Actively pursuing information through print media and participating in high-level conversations -- even, potentially, blogging -- makes one smarter.

The ISI insists that higher-education reforms aimed at civic literacy are urgently needed. Who could argue otherwise? But historian Rick Shenkman, author of "Just How Stupid Are We?" thinks reform needs to start in high school. His strategy is both poetic (to certain ears) and pragmatic: Require students to read newspapers, and give college freshman weekly quizzes on current events.

Did he say newspapers?! Shenkman even suggests government subsidies for newspaper subscriptions, as well as federal tuition subsidies for students who perform well on civics tests. They could be paid from a special fund created by, say, a "Too Many Stupid Voters Act."

Not only would citizens be smarter, but also newspapers might be saved. Announcements of newsroom cuts, which ultimately hurt quality, have become routine. Just this week, USA Today announced the elimination of about 20 positions, while the Newark Star-Ledger, as it cuts its news staff by 40 percent, lost almost its entire editorial board in a single day.

In his book, Shenkman, founder of George Mason University's History News Network, is tough on everyday Americans. Why, he asks, do we value polls when clearly The People don't know enough to make a reasoned judgment?

Of course, what Parker fails to mention is that The People don't know enough to make a reasoned judgement largely as a result of these same newspapers taking roles as advocates for one political theology instead of acting as unbiased journalists. The public, while underinformed but not nearly as ignorant as today's newroom and editorial board advocacy organizations would like, recognize the naked cheerleading and overt bias of the MSM, and quit buying their product.

Parker, Shenkman, and others with a stake in todays dying media want to legislate a market for a substandard product. Too bad for them, the People aren't as uneducated as they would like.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 26, 2008 10:33 AM

If you want a bailout, you gots to get in line.

Posted by: AIGGMFORDCHRYSLER at November 26, 2008 10:41 AM

A government bailout would make them wards of the government and no longer a free press, a violation of the consitiution. Let em die a slow death.

Posted by: Scrapiron at November 26, 2008 11:49 AM

The quiz wasn't that tough. I took it cold in 15 minutes and missed three questions - one on Row v Wade, another on the Gettysburg address and one on taxation.

I cannot believe that people casting votes would average 49%. No wonder Obama was elected.

Posted by: arch at November 26, 2008 12:27 PM

I work in health insurance, if The One does get Obamacare approved, will I get a bailout?

Posted by: ConservativeWanderer (formerly C-C-G) at November 26, 2008 06:07 PM

Scrap - I favor a quick death for them myself.

Posted by: emdfl at November 26, 2008 06:52 PM

Starbucks profits are down; I'm waiting for the $6B to prop up the ailing luxury coffee vendor. The country can't afford a disruption of its pricey caffeine supplies or a mob of unemployed disgruntled urban baristas.

Posted by: Zhombre at November 26, 2008 07:10 PM

It's only a matter of time before the grateful Obama administration cranks up its rhetoric generator to write an impassioned plea for some form of 'grants' to ensure the survival of the papers that enabled his big political win.

His only executive experience to date has been right along these lines. Through his pal Bill Ayers, he was made chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and from that chair Obama doled out almost $150,000,000 in grants. Those funds were supposed to improve the academic performance of Chicago schoolkids, according to the Annenberg Foundation. They didn't - again according to said Foundation - but the records show that many recipients were more like political 'community organizations', and no doubt benefited the sort of machine-building politics that Obama liked to practice in Chicago.

Imagine the machine-building politics that a few billions of taxpayer dollars could create in the hands of the New York Times. The MSM has already paid its dues to the President-elect, now it's time for the rewards.

Posted by: Micropotamus at November 26, 2008 10:40 PM

For the past 18 months, I have been selling NYT short. It started at $28 and monday it was below $6. That was the bottom.

Rupert Murdoch has been poaching the life blood - high end advertisements - for the WSJ. About 75% of their revenue comes from ads and the rest from subscriptions. The Ochs & Sulsburger families are dipping into their piggy banks to keep Pinch employed.

Soon, Rupert will make them an offer they can't refuse.

Posted by: arch at November 27, 2008 07:42 AM

Of course I think that kids should become smarter, to learn more about current events, etc. The MSM does dominate these things, though, so by choosing which avenues they get their information, you're putting your own bias on it.

Posted by: ew at November 27, 2008 11:32 AM


According to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) who conducted the survey, "Television - Including TV News - Dumbs America Down"

Political discussions, such as those we have here, are of great value. In addition, ISI is very critical of our educational institutions.

Posted by: arch at November 28, 2008 09:12 AM

"Parker, Shenkman, and others with a stake in todays dying media want to legislate a market for a substandard product."

Aside from the fact that that's what ALL the bailouts are about (propping up dismal failures), I imagine this would result in piles of unread newspapers in schoolrooms across the nation.

Lack of knowledge isn't about a lack of access TO knowledge. This idea is destined to fail.

I don't know if this would work, but why not try reporting the news and leaving opinions to the opinion pages? One local paper tries its best to do this (though by using AP et al it often fails). It's the ONLY paper increasing its circulation. Hello? Anybody paying attention?

Posted by: DoorHold at November 30, 2008 01:08 PM