Congress still trying to buy the news: We can’t let it happen

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A bipartisan House effort trying to get the federal government to prop up local media through the COVID-19 lockdown is well-meaning.

That’s all it is. Well-meaning.

Local news is a subset of media conglomerates. Propping up local news is giving money to big corporations, just like Shake Shack was able to tap into PPP money that was supposed to go to small businesses.

The local in local news went away a long time ago.

This has to be about something else.

“Without advertising revenue, local media outlets cannot survive,” a letter from the bipartisan group, led by Democrats Debbie Dingell and Marc Veasey, and Repubicans Fred Upton and Bill Flores, informs President Trump, on its way to requesting that the president direct dollars from the federal budget to go to advertising with local media sources, and incentivizing businesses to spend ad dollars in their local communities.

Virginia Democrat Donald McEachin released a statement today backing the effort.

“We have to ensure that these small businesses are able to weather the storm,” McEachin said. “That’s why I – along with a number of my House colleagues – am calling on the president to expediate agency funding intended to be used for advertising federal programs, as well as to incentivize that a portion of stimulus funds provided to small businesses be used for advertising on local media.

“Local media provides invaluable information to communities about those communities, and like every other small business, we have to ensure they are able to make it through these tough times,” McEachin said.

No doubt your friendly local newspaper, radio station or TV station will be all for this, but as a taxpayer, this can’t feel right.

There’s no way we can have the government bailing out the news media, and expect the news media to maintain any sense of independence when it comes to coverage of policy and partisan issues.

And that would be the case even if the news was just the news, and the local part was actually local.

News is just another business, and it hasn’t been local basically since the decade before the advent of the Internet.

This is a bad idea, unless you’re a politician, and you’re hoping you can use tax dollars to buy coverage, in which case, makes all the sense in the world.

For you, the reader, the taxpayer, the citizen, this is a boondoggle in the making.

Story by Chris Graham

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