French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today that the government will try to help the ailing print newspaper business in several ways. They include:
*Giving free newspaper subscriptions to 18 year olds
*Covering more delivery costs
*Buying more ads
“It is indeed its (the state’s) responsibility … to make sure an independent, free and pluralistic press exists.”
Wow. What a different way to approach this. In the U.S., I think government aid to newspapers in this fashion would have journalists worried about a perceived conflict of interest, not to mention what would happen the first time a journalist wrote a story that the president or government officials vehemently did not like.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if even a part of this — say, giving teens a gift subscription to a newspaper on their 18th birthday–could be adopted here? To be good citizens, people need to be informed. I see how Sarkozy can view this as part of the state’s responsibility.
Sarkozy says his plan is intended to give newspapers time to transform and adapt to be multiplatform, offering their stories through multiple vehicles.
But as Sarkozy noted, government aid is not going to save the industry if it doesn’t change and adapt.