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Sarkozy pumps €600 million into French newspaper business

I’m sorry. They’re gripped by a rough lot of Communist labor unions, the quality of reportage is probably not that hot (I can’t say definitively, I don’t read French and bookstores barely stock U.S. papers, much less Euro papers that are probably run by anarchists and s-s-s-socialists) and French readership and circulation continues to dip as it does across the rest of most of the First World, but I all but stood on my chair applauding this move.

‘Sarkozy likened the press to any other industry in need of aid, such as the automobile sector.’

‘Sarkozy’s measures included a year’s free, state-subsidised newspaper subscription for all teenagers from their 18th birthday. He said: “The habit of reading a daily paper takes root at a very young age.”‘

A dangerous precedent, sure, a danger to the almighty First World freedom of the press, maybe. But red turns to black by way of green. “Freedom isn’t free,” as the American motto goes.

Mark I. Pinksy of The New Republic has beaten me to the draw with my own hypothesis for the future of journalism: a government-subsidized central trust, with a strong preservationist/legacy bent to render appearances more benign, around which the surviving private enterprises all orbit, picking up/freely exchanging information and aspiring talent along the way.

WNYC’s On the Media program interviewed Pinsky and profiled the Federal Writers Project. The latter was treated rather fondly–Pinsky’s reception was somewhat harsher. Fair enough, there are legitimate concerns and risks associated with the state funding of any industry previously the sole domain of private enterprise.

Honestly though, I’ve sensed a knee-jerk reaction in not just the brass, but much of journalism’s rank-and-file against the idea of BBC-style “journalism handouts.” An assumption, absolute in its faith, that integrity can only be maintained in the trade through the continued existence of the fiscal wing of the office building as a private entity.

It never ceases to amaze me how eager modern journalists are to help out the blades sawing at their own wrists and jugulars.

Having already been beaten to the chase by Pinsky on one front, I will preempt the other and declare myself what the journalists described above would be wont to call me if I mattered: “Defeatist Journalist.” I won’t give them the satisfaction of having coined that term.

This is all pure speculation.

[20:00] Sync: there’s only one forecast I have that I can say with utmost certainty

[20:00] Sync: the quality of American reportage will decline

[20:00] _____: how is that even possible?

[20:00] _____: American media is already crap

[20:14] Sync: it’s possible

[20:14] Sync: man

[20:14] Sync: if that journalism outsourcing actually takes off soon

[20:14] Sync: Asia could stand to make a fucking killing in the next decade

[20:15] Sync: (as in killing me and my career)

[20:24] Sync: well, to refer back to the original point

[20:24] Sync: just look at the state of american journalism’s command structure as of right now

[20:25] Sync: the current aging dinosaur bosses and owners of media outlets seem to have little desire or initiative to change up and vastly overhaul the business model of modern journalism into something that will actually work

[20:25] Sync: and the next generation coming to replace them?

[20:27] Sync: They seem to be happy being eternally happy-go-lucky about blogging and the unfettered nature of the Internet, not bothering to be very concerned about how online journalists will make any money

[20:28] Sync: I’ve described them essentially as sitting there with their emo glasses and dumb grins on their faces more than happy as they stab themselves repeatedly in the belly

[20:28] Sync: slitting their own hamstrings

[20:28] Sync: “BLOGGING IS THE FUTURE OF FREE PRESS!”

[20:30] Sync: so there will be a gazillion free-to-access, free-to-work for online sources of reportage

[20:31] Sync: “staffed” almost entirely by part-time “citizen reporters,” ie: people already connected tenuously and questionably to the stories they have leads on in their local areas

[20:31] Sync: who almost certainly work other jobs totally unrelated to journalism to make a living and aren’t trained as professional journalists

[20:32] Sync: hence: the quality of American reportage will decline

[20:33] Sync: “BLOGGING IS THE FUTURE OF FREE PRESS!”

There’s irony somewhere in the fact that this is an article from a newspaper abolished in its country of origin. Yasha Levin wrote:

Six Apart, the company behind the popular TypePad blogging platform, just went Marie Antoinette on us all. With all the jobs being cut in the paper industry and increasing numbers of reporters stuck with nothing to do but moan, the company decided to help out. Introducing the “TypePad Journalist Bailout Program”: a free TypePad Pro blog account for every unemployed professional journalist! A media famine is afoot, journalists don’t have papers to work for. So…”Let them blog!” For free, of course. All of which helps Six Apart’s bottom line…

Watching ourselves go quietly into the night.