Aid to publishers will be politicized

“Populist alt-right and activist left-wing publications will use the tax credit as a cudgel to hammer reporters and editors for being in the pocket of the Biden administration.”

Normally when I write these annual predictions, I stick my index finger in the air to guess which way the wind is blowing. But this year, I can actually see the future — because I’m already living it.

Some context: Following in the footsteps of its Canadian brethren, the U.S. government may soon issue a labor tax credit for journalists as part of the Build Back Better bill that passed the House in November.

According to The New York Times’ Marc Tracy:

If the $2.2 trillion social safety net and climate package makes it through the Senate, it will provide $1.67 billion over the next five years for newspapers, websites, radio and TV stations, and other outlets that primarily cover local news.

You can argue about the importance of this program to publishers seeking a lifeline. But what can’t be argued is that any government aid to publishers will be politicized. This risks further eroding trust in traditional media and needs to be considered before any legislation is passed.

Republican opponents of the bill will chew on the “journalism bailout” as red meat for a base that already distrusts traditional media.

Populist alt-right and activist left-wing publications will use the tax credit as a cudgel to hammer reporters and editors for being in the pocket of the Biden administration. And conveniently, it’ll be a great fundraising opportunity for their own “independent” news outlets.

Companies on the receiving end of the subsidies will howl into the wind, “Journalistic independence!” Only to be drowned out anytime the #Bidenbloviators, #Bidensbeat, and #Bidensbroadcasters hashtags trend when a story is viewed unfavorably by the competing base.

My own views on this form of government assistance for journalism aren’t relevant in this prediction, although you can read what I wrote at the time about the Canadian government’s approach here and here. But know that this is all already happening north of the border.

David Skok is the CEO and editor-in-chief of The Logic.

Normally when I write these annual predictions, I stick my index finger in the air to guess which way the wind is blowing. But this year, I can actually see the future — because I’m already living it.

Some context: Following in the footsteps of its Canadian brethren, the U.S. government may soon issue a labor tax credit for journalists as part of the Build Back Better bill that passed the House in November.

According to The New York Times’ Marc Tracy:

If the $2.2 trillion social safety net and climate package makes it through the Senate, it will provide $1.67 billion over the next five years for newspapers, websites, radio and TV stations, and other outlets that primarily cover local news.

You can argue about the importance of this program to publishers seeking a lifeline. But what can’t be argued is that any government aid to publishers will be politicized. This risks further eroding trust in traditional media and needs to be considered before any legislation is passed.

Republican opponents of the bill will chew on the “journalism bailout” as red meat for a base that already distrusts traditional media.

Populist alt-right and activist left-wing publications will use the tax credit as a cudgel to hammer reporters and editors for being in the pocket of the Biden administration. And conveniently, it’ll be a great fundraising opportunity for their own “independent” news outlets.

Companies on the receiving end of the subsidies will howl into the wind, “Journalistic independence!” Only to be drowned out anytime the #Bidenbloviators, #Bidensbeat, and #Bidensbroadcasters hashtags trend when a story is viewed unfavorably by the competing base.

My own views on this form of government assistance for journalism aren’t relevant in this prediction, although you can read what I wrote at the time about the Canadian government’s approach here and here. But know that this is all already happening north of the border.

David Skok is the CEO and editor-in-chief of The Logic.

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