Salon: Public Ownership Fails Newspapers

By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2007 12:31 PM CDT
Salon: Public Ownership Fails Newspapers
Co. The Bancroft family, which has controlling interest in Dow Jones, turned down the offer Tuesday, May 2. (AP Photo/FOX NEWS)   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – The looming Murdochization of the Wall Street Journal highlights what people should have realized long ago, writes Gary Weiss: just how disastrous public ownership is to the newspaper business. Every time that investors' bottom lines are matched against journalistic integrity, journalism gets tramped. "The only solution," he says, "is to get rid of the shareholders."

Public ownership made sense in an era when newspapers could slash labor costs through technology. But in the mature industry, cutting costs requires cutting content, like long-form journalism, local interest stories, foreign bureaus, and investigative reporting. To save journalism, Weiss says, concerned private trusts should buy back newspaper shares. Unfortunately, he writes, that has "approximately zero chance of happening." (Read more Rupert Murdoch stories.)

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