When French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday that the government would help the ailing country’s newspaper industry with millions of dollars in state aid, I was skeptical about such a plan working in the U.S. because of the perception of close ties between government officials and journalists that such aid might create.
Geneva Overholser, director of the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California, and Geoffrey Cowan, dean emeritus of USC’s Annenberg School, have changed my mind about government aid for journalism. In a LA Times piece written before the French announcement, the duo point out the history of the U.S. government financially aiding and/or encouraging journalism. They also posit some ways the government could help now, including subsidies and tax changes.
The piece is not a wish list. They still hold journalists and newspapers accountable for innovative content and creation of a working economic model. But they argue convincingly that print journalists cannot save the industry alone.