Business, Economics and Jobs

Bailing out newspapers

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(Image: Flickr user Chris Metcalf (cc: by-nc-sa))

Story by Tanya Snyder, "Capitol News Connection"

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President Obama said recently he'd be open to considering tax breaks for the ailing newspaper industry, which has lost ad revenue and jobs over the past several years. Some critics call it a bailout, but the idea is just to confer tax-exempt nonprofit status onto newspaper companies that serve an educational purpose.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said it could rescue struggling papers like the "Cleveland Plain Dealer."

"Sure, we want to protect daily newspapers," he said. "But at the same time, we've got to be careful. When government starts to reach into there, what does that do? Does that put the government in the position of being able to dictate what goes into the papers?"

Then he paused and asked, "And if it doesn't, why not?"

"Time Magazine" predicted the "Plain Dealer" will shut down at least its print edition by the end of next year. The paper laid off at least 50 employees since last fall.

At a Congressional hearing on the issue last Thursday, experts said nonprofit status alone wouldn't save the industry, and they urged caution in reassuring the government aid doesn't compromise the media's independence. They said that whatever their tax status, newspapers should keep their ability to endorse candidates and espouse political positions.

Created by Bureau Chief and Executive Producer Melinda Wittstock, Capitol News Connection from PRI provides insightful, localized coverage of participating stations' congressional delegations.

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