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The politics of newspaper rescue


 

Interesting juxtaposition on Romenesko today. First, there's an item from Alan Mutter's Newsasaur blog on the political implications of newspaper closings; among other things, a new study finds that closures make it easier for incumbents to win election.

And then, right below Mutter's item, there's a San Francisco Chronicle piece on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking Attorney General Eric Holder to make it easier for struggling newspapers--like, say, the Chronicle--to merge with other struggling papers in order to survive.

If this doesn't make you uncomfortable, it should. If a politician intercedes on a newspaper's behalf--like Pelosi did here, or like the various Massachusetts pols who urged the NY Times Co. to go easy on the Globe back in 2006--there's a real danger that the paper, in its gratitude for said politican's/politicians' efforts, will report or editorialize a bit more gently. Which, of course, could make it easier for incumbents to win election.

To be fair, there's no indication that Pelosi or the Mass pols expected any sort of quid pro quo. But that doesn't change the basic problem.

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