30,000 media jobs lost in ’08–Congress should hold hearings and pass new laws to address the Journalism crisis

Ad Age reports that “the media industries have shed more than 30,000 jobs in 2008, according to an Ad Age analysis of Department of Labor employment statistics and news reports.” More than 200,000 media jobs have been lost since 2000, the story notes.

But we all know that the mainstream news industry has been in trouble for decades, with mega mergers and various financial schemes saddling them with debt. Now the downturn in the economy, with ads on the decline, as well as the fundamental shift to digital news sources, is helping further erode the support system for serious journalism. Congress should hold hearings on why journalism is in crisis, investigating who is responsible, and what can be done about it. Among the possibilities: New laws permitting employee buy-outs of newspapers (real ones, not the phony kind engineered by Trib’s Sam Zell); changes in the tax and corporate governance rules so public service comes before shareholder profits; and regulations that reward non-profit and philanthropic news media ownership. There should also be funds from the economic stimulus designed to foster diverse ownership of news outlets. If we can bail-out Wall Street and automakers, we should certainly do something for a profession essential to our democracy.

source: “Media Companies Cull 30,000 in Fight for Their Future.” Michael Learmouth. Ad Age. December 8, 2008

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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