After backing the news industry for more than 200 years, the government should assess how it can be most helpful now, when the future of news and information is so uncertain. As it debates possible forms of support, the government should consider these principles:
However policymakers proceed, they should do so based on facts rather than myth. The government has always supported the commercial news business. It does so today; and unless the government takes affirmative action, the level of support is almost certain to decline at this important time in the history of journalism.
First and foremost, do no harm. A cycle of powerful innovation is under way. To the extent possible, government should avoid retarding the emergence of new models of newsgathering.
Second, the government should help promote innovation, as it did when the Department of Defense funded the research that created the Internet or when NASA funded the creation of satellites that made cable television and direct TV possible.
Third, for commercial media, government-supported mechanisms that are content neutral — such as copyright protections, postal subsidies and taxes — are preferable to those that call upon the government to fund specific news outlets, publications or programs.
HOME PAGE TWITTER: Lots of newspapers are Twittering breaking news. Quite a few — including the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald — have added Twitter feeds to their home pages. In Dubuque, they call it “Twitter from the Streets.”
SKI PATROL: NYT interviews a Web designer. [NY Times]
On telecommuting: Last year, when I was at my start-up, I worked in Utah for two months and skied. It was amazing. That was probably the best idea I ever had. I worked normal East Coast hours on Monday, and Tuesday through Friday, I would ski 9 to 12, 9 to 1, and I only overlapped with East Coast hours for an hour on those days. I always had my cellphone on me. When the site goes down, I would get e-mails, and the ski lodge had free WiFi. As a result, flexibility in hours and location became my No. 1 most desired benefit.
POST SUIT: Another ex-employee claims racism at the NY Post. [Huffington Post]
LIFE AND DEATH: Will Heeb die? Posters argue with mag’s editor. [Gawker]
LONDON WEEKLY: New free weekly plans 250,000 circ. [Newspaper Innovation]
MICROSOFT: Don’t count on a newspaper bailout from Seattle. [PI]
PHILLIPPINES MASSACRE: World press organization condemns it, along with other anti-press actions. [WAN IFRA]
CLIMATEGATE E-MAILS: A video presentation. 10 minutes with background music.