Obama Open To Tax Breaks For Newspapers
Before anyone gets excited, one way or the other, it should be noted that being “happy to look” at a bill is far different from supporting a piece of legislation. In addition, the lack of sponsors for this measure is a statement all in itself. Having said that however President Obama is correct about the need for newspapers in a democracy. Too few understand that fact. As I preach here over and over, not only are newspapers the first draft of history but the journalists that investigate and report help keep the government accountable to the people. For all those who dismiss the idea for the need to find a way to keep newspapers in business are cutting off their nose to spite their face.
The president said he is “happy to look at” bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses.
“I haven’t seen detailed proposals yet, but I’ll be happy to look at them,” Obama told the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade in an interview.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced S. 673, the so-called “Newspaper Revitalization Act,” that would give outlets tax deals if they were to restructure as 501(c)(3) corporations. That bill has so far attracted one cosponsor, Cardin’s Maryland colleague Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D).
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had played down the possibility of government assistance for news organizations, which have been hit by an economic downturn and dwindling ad revenue.
In early May, Gibbs said that while he hadn’t asked the president specifically about bailout options for newspapers, “I don’t know what, in all honesty, government can do about it.”
Obama said that good journalism is “critical to the health of our democracy,” but expressed concern toward growing tends in reporting — especially on political blogs, from which a groundswell of support for his campaign emerged during the presidential election.
“I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding,” he said.