A Newspaper Bailout?

President Obama suggested, in an Oval Office interview with the Toledo Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he would consider legislation offering tax breaks to newspapers that re-organize as non-profits.

Says here the proposal is a good idea. Congress shouldn't be pouring money into for-profit newspapers that are bleeding money. But the non-profit model holds promise. And a vital press, needless to say, is vital to a functioning democracy.

I took a stab at this several months ago in an op-ed in the Boston Globe. The piece called for a more direct subsidy to non-profit news organizations. And critics said government funding of a news operation would compromise objectivity. But NPR and the BBC have remained plenty independent despite years of government funding. And I find it hard to believe that journalists - among the most ornery, outspoken workers in the nation - would fall in line, and remain tight-lipped, if the government did, indeed, try to influence coverage unduly.

Besides, do we have many options these days?

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