Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols in “The Death and Life of American Journalism” argue correctly that the old models for delivering the news are dead. They see the government as the savior of last resort. The authors cite the massive postal and printing subsidies that lasted into the 19th century as a precedent for government intervention. And they propose building a new generation of journalists and publications from new government subsidies and from programs such as their suggested News AmeriCorps, which would train the next generation of journalists.
The authors offer a series of innovations including “citizen news vouchers” and low-cost, low-profit newsrooms. They write: “The government will pay half the salary of every reporter and editor up to $45,000 each. Assuming most daily and weekly newspapers go post-corporate and employment returns to the high-water mark of two decades ago—the latter is a very big assumption, we know—this would cost the state $3.5 billion annually. If employment stayed at current levels it would run half that total. Newspapers that benefit from these subsidies would also be prime candidates for News AmeriCorps rookie journalists.”
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Chris Hedges spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009) and War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2003).