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Feds to Assess Business of News

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by JBond, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    F.T.C. to Assess Business of News

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/business/media/24ftc.html?_r=1

    Just about everyone, from the general public to news executives, has an opinion about the future of journalism. Now, the Federal Trade Commission is stepping into the debate.

    The commission is planning two days of workshops in December — titled “From Town Criers to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?” — to examine the state of the news industry.

    More often, the F.T.C. tends to organize workshops related to consumer protection issues like mortgage fraud. But Jon Leibowitz, the F.T.C. chairman, says the agency has taken a look at other industries, through workshops on hospital competition, food marketing and the patent system. Journalism’s future falls in the agency’s purview, he said.

    “Competition among news organizations involves more than just price,” Mr. Leibowitz said in an interview.

    Disclosure: Mr. Leibowitz is married to Ruth Marcus, an editorial writer at The Washington Post. But he said the commissioners, who are a mix of Democrats and Republicans, are supportive of the workshops.

    Though some may be uncomfortable with government oversight of any aspect of journalism, the F.T.C. seems to be “attempting to play a facilitating and public educational role in gathering together various disciplines and perspectives to talk about the crisis in mainstream journalism,” said Neil Henry, a professor and dean at the graduate school of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. “The government’s willingness to raise the profile of this issue, and to help explain why it is important for a national conversation, I think in general is welcome.”

    That being said, the industry may still have to fend for itself for solutions to its major problems.

    “That, in the end, will be the work of journalists, business thinkers, entrepreneurs, engineers, technologists and the people ourselves,” Mr. Henry said.

    A report will be issued after the workshops that may make recommendations to lawmakers on changes in policies on anything ranging from taxation of news organizations to copyright issues, Mr. Leibowitz said. He said no specific issues had been chosen.

    “We really want to keep an open mind,” Mr. Leibowitz said. The workshops will help because “we don’t have a sense empirically of the nature of the problem,” he said. PRADNYA JOSHI

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