If the newspaper business is gonna drown put a hose in their mouth
Newspapers have reached the desperate stage of their death spiral, the point where they're looking for government bail-outs.
In the case of the financial industry there was a case to be made that letting AIG and Citigroup fail would cost more than propping them up. In the case of the auto industry there's a case to be made that we'll at least get the money back.
There is no such case to be made for newspapers.
What they're looking for is a "tweak" to the copyright laws that would bar linking to copyrighted material without consent. What they're seeking is the destruction of the Internet.
The same argument holds for the idea that content should be exclusive to its source for 24 hours. If you can't link to it, content does not exist. I'm amazed people like Connie Schultz manage to breathe they're so stupid.
The Internet is based on links. Content you can't Google does not exist. We have learned this before with the news industry when it tried to hide its content behind paid firewalls and registration systems.
It didn't work.
The industry now knows it needs links. It just wants to extract monopoly rents for them. Hey, I want a pony.
Any Senator or Congressman who stands up for this nonsense needs to be slapped down, hard. Can you imagine the cost of this to schools, to libraries, to universities? Can you imagine the bureaucratic cost of tracking this free money? And I guarantee it will go only to a few politically-connected news barons, people like Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim.
The journalism business has always been about churn. Outlets come, outlets go. There is never really a vacuum of coverage, except perhaps for brief periods. As in Houston when I worked there, in the late 1970s, and a small collection of oil-connected millionaires owned every media outlet so good stories couldn't get out.
Such vacuums are harder to maintain today. People can get the story who are from out of town. Freelancers can get the story themselves and flog it on their own sites, or on any site willing to pay them.
The idea that we're trying to protect poor, poor individual writers is absolutely bogus. Writers and line editors have never made much money, never made even a portion of what they were worth. The money always went to the top of the pyramid.
The problem with newspapers is not the Internet. The problem with newspapers was owners who thought the market should give them a 30% return on equity every year, so they starved the businesses of resources needed to maintain market and mind share, with predictable results.
Every major American city has a host of minor publications -- business papers, entertainment papers, neighborhood papers. Each one has a staff of some sort. Each one has a news hole, and a news budget. The idea that the erstwhile monopolists should be subsidized by the rest of the Internet, and that the Internet should be blown up if that's not done, is absolutely monstrous.
Hey, The Washington Post had to can Dan Froomkin last week. What a shame, he did good work.