By CRAIG MEDRED
Every thinking American wants quality journalism, but who defines what qualifies?
The country’s media elite now think they should be the arbiter. The elite have banded together to form the News Media Alliance. It’s chief goal is to get the U.S. government to lift anti-trust restrictions that prevent newspapers from operating collectively as a cartel.
Think OPEC, and you’ve got the idea. The Alliance wants to control news the way the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries once controlled oil.
“Legislation that enables news organizations to negotiate collectively will address pervasive problems that today are diminishing the overall health and quality of the news media industry,”says David Chavern, President & CEO of the Alliance. “Quality journalism is critical to sustaining democracy and is central to civic society. To ensure that such journalism has a future, the news organizations that fund it must be able to collectively negotiate with the digital platforms that effectively control distribution and audience access in the digital age.”
Heavy with representatives of the old media – the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Hearst Newspapers, Gannett Co. – the Alliance is trying to claim the high moral ground, but what this is really all about is money.
All across the country, once powerful newspapers are struggling to survive. They’ve lost classified advertising to craigslist and others. They’re bleeding subscribers. The value of their print advertising is falling along with the exodus of print readers because advertisers don’t want to pay as much for ever-shrinking exposure.
Meanwhile, some of these operations remain too big, too fat and too burdened with overhead to survive on the cash flow from online advertising, and attempts to monetize the internet with paywalls generally aren’t working well.