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Let's Provide Incentives For Good Journalism

 

America's successful run as a Democracy has rested on our adherence to specific values, including hard work, fair play, honest voting, equal opportunity, a level playing field, support for individual rights (at home and abroad), relatively high morality, and many more including, of course, having the press act as check and balance on government miscues, as intended by our original Founders.

But we've been "strip mining" these cultural values, enjoying the fruits they bring us without doing much to make sure they remain healthy and strong enough to yield the same kinds of benefits for future generations.

And that's what's got to be fixed.

More specifically, Congress has to be smart about putting a new set of incentives in place that will support and encourage honest, hard-hitting journalism.

Why?

Because it's a vital element of our success as a Democracy, which in large measure has depended on:

* separation of church and state
* Constitutional balance of power
* vigorous, free and independent media

Let's face it, we provide incentives (though not always wisely) to energy companies, farmers, large employers, factory owners and countless other business institutions in hopes of influencing their decisions toward actions we believe will help the country overall. Based on journalism's poor performance in recent decades, it's obvious that we now need to do something similar for the information businesses that serve us best when they "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable".

It's not entirely clear whether these incentives should take the form of subsidies, increased tax advantages, government procurement (of subscriptions and/or ad space in media doing the best jobs of investigative reporting), or something even smarter. But clearly, we can no longer leave it up to the "invisible hand" of "the market" to drive journalists to hold up their leg of the three-legged stool that supports American democracy.