FTC Reinventing Journalism: Today’s Watchdogs May Be Tomorrow’s Lap Dogs


As we have come to expect, the new FTC “discussion draft” on reinventing journalism was quietly released this week, virtually lost among the big stories of flotillas and oil leaks. Some of the ideas contained include using AmeriCorps as a cheap, young journalistic alternative and grant making to university journalism students to do actual reporting. Ideas like these could easily redefine journalists from the role of watchdogs to government lapdogs. Many taxes are proposed to cover the costs of these proposals. The cost could run about $35 billion annually in the name of media justice.

This hand wringing over another “too big to fail” industry from Washington has always been on their “To Do” list, but who else has been behind a reorganization of journalism and the media?

Just to name a few: 

  • The Knight Commission, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and convened by the Aspen Institute. The Aspen Institute is funded by the usual gang of three: Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller. The Knight Commission suggests a federal tax credit for the support of investigative journalism.

That is why—at the end of this report—we will explore a variety and mixture of ways to support news reporting, which must include non-market sources like philanthropy and government.

These groups are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a massive network behind the “media justice” movement, part of the bigger picture of progressive fundamental change.

I don’t think there is any doubt what kind of “journalism” we can expect from implementing the ideas they have outlined. Even without an official government takeover of the industry, the news outlets will be keenly aware of the source of their funding. Our First Amendment freedom of the press will be out the window with the first funding check.

In an excellent piece from Patrick Maines, he puts it this way:

But standing on the sidelines are current and former journalists, and their financial enablers in the grant-making world, proposing to erect a national system as would invite competition from taxpayer-subsidized companies that would be crucially dependent on the goodwill of their governmental patrons. Such is the idealism of journalism reformers and “reconstructors.”

Decide what you want, America….watchdogs or lap dogs, news or propaganda.