Papers Can't Ask for Bailout, Seek Rule Change Instead

Handout would violate journos' watchdog role
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 3, 2009 1:25 PM CDT
Calvin Harden sells the Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 4, 2006.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – With the industry in dire straits, some in the journalism business want government help—but they’re not looking for a financial bailout, Reuters reports. “That is so clearly contrary to what our role is as a watchdog that it’s just not acceptable,” said a former newspaper editor. What publishers want are legal concessions: changes to antitrust laws, tax breaks, perhaps the ability to become non-profits.

A change in antitrust laws could allow publishers to gather and figure out how to fix the industry. As it stands, “antitrust concerns inhibit even the most rudimentary discussions,” says a newspaper head. The attorney general says he’s not opposed to such a move. But the head of the Federal Trade Commission says “the nature of the problem” needs a closer look first.