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Federal Government Proposes Greater Role In Local News

According to their latest proposal, the federal government wants to be more involved with local news outlets.

In a Report Last week, the Government Accountability Office released a proposal to issue public policies to aid local journalism and combat misinformation. The GAO reported that local news’ lack of economic viability was the problem causing over 2,000 local newspapers to close since the early 2000s.

“[T]he market may not produce public interest content sufficient for a well-informed society,” The GAO. “Experts conveyed that the main goal of journalism is to have a well-informed society, and policies that aim to support this goal need to be innovation-friendly, forward-looking, and inclusive.”

GAO recommended tax incentives, credits, direct funding from the government, advertising by the government, federal grants and loans, as well as government intervention in relation to internet platforms that are dominant to support local non-profit news. They also suggested that the government establish policies to protect certain types of information. “public interest journalism” Failure of the market

“According to literature and participants, direct government funding and tax incentives supporting nonprofit news organizations can be useful in addressing market failure if there are sufficient safeguards to ensure independence,” According to the report.

GAO conceded that there is no universal definition for “public interest journalism” exists. They stated however that they do not define “public interest journalism” As that which covers issues “public significance to engage citizens and inform democratic decision-making,” These include investigations on “civically important topics.”

The GAO added this “public interest journalism” Serves: “public good” All members of society “generates positive externalities.” According to the GAO, this term refers to the ability to bring benefits to society that exceeds those of local media outlets or consumers. “internalize.” The agency provided examples by citing reports that reduce COVID spread.

The GAO indicated that consumer desire for the government’s standard of “public interest journalism” may not exist because consumers don’t realize the extent of its benefits.

“[W]hen consumers do not perceive or internalize the benefit of this information to them, or when they expect to receive it for free, they are not willing to pay for this type of journalism,” The GAO.

The agency further warned that the internet’s decentralization of news production and distribution, mainly through social media, pose a risk to public interest journalism.

The GAO noted that local news outlets making the jump from private companies to nonprofits creates an opportunity for involvement in low-income communities’ news access.

“According to stakeholders, the nonprofit model, financed by a combination of federal funding and philanthropy, could be a viable strategy for targeting low-income communities that find paid access to news restrictive,” The GAO.

GAO reports were based on a one-year performance audit, which was completed between September 2021 and September 2017.

The GAO issued the report to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), chaired by Jessica Rosenworcel — a Democrat who has served in the FCC since 2012, when she was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

Though Rosenworcel’s term was set to expire in 2017 after the Senate failed to reconfirm her, former President Donald Trump nominated her for a second term. Rosenworcel was elected acting chair in January 2021. She was then appointed permanently that October.

Rosenworcel was a vocal critic of Trump’s speech and attitude toward media — specifically, his rhetoric on “fake news.” 

I believe in the First Amendment.

Journalism is something I believe in.

I believe that pronouncements such as these cross the lines.

I pray and hope that my @FCC Coworkers agree.

— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) June 13, 2018

It appears that Rosenworcel’s interest for the welfare and structure of local media began at the top of the COVID outbreak in March 2020.

“This crisis is going to change local journalism,” stated Rosenworcel.

We need local news to help us make decisions about our lives, our communities and our country. But this crisis is going to change local journalism.

— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) March 24, 2020

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