The newspaper mandate

posted at 9:10 am on April 3, 2012 by Steven Den Beste

Work with me here:

Newspapers have been an important part of the American political process since even before the Constitution was written. The First Amendment was inspired, in part, by the founders’ recognition of the importance of newspapers to that process.

Newspapers have been referred to as the “Fourth Estate” (after Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary) because they monitored the government at all levels, federal and state and local, and kept voters up to date on what the government was doing. Without that information, voters would not be able to exercise their franchise properly.

But now newspapers face an existential crisis due to falling revenue. Most can no longer afford to maintain a large staff of reporters, and are reduced to filling their pages with stories from the major wire services. The future is dire; even with those cutbacks they’re losing money and it’s only going to get worse. How long before the first major city whose last daily paper goes belly up? If it hasn’t happened already, it surely will soon.

Who shall keep the voters apprised of government activity, if not an organized press? And who will pay for it? A government subsidy is no answer; if you give government the purse strings, what newspaper would feel comfortable criticizing the government that pays them?

So how about a newspaper mandate? You pass a federal law requiring every adult American to subscribe to a daily newspaper. They can pick any newspaper they like, so there’s no problem with monopolies. (Yeah, in many areas now there’s only one local paper, but you can get USA Today or the Wall Street Journal nearly everywhere, just to take two examples. And once the newspaper mandate is in place, you will find new newspapers popping up, and existing ones broadening their distribution areas. Any monopolies will be short-lived.)

This then gives the press a guaranteed source of funding which isn’t directly under government control, providing them with the resources to do the kind of aggressive reporting on government activities which is an essential part of running our Democracy.

Now I don’t really think this is a good idea, and I’m not proposing it seriously. I also recognize that it contains several whoppers which probably inspired horselaughs while you were reading it.

But tell me this: if the health care individual mandate survives court challenge, why wouldn’t this?

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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When they stopped being the Fourth Estate and became a poitical arm of the DNC…sure we quit buying the paper.

KOOLAID2 on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Those trees needed killin’ anyway.

NoDonkey on April 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Not to mention that I can’t wrap fish in a blog editorial, and believe me I tried.

Then again I once wrapped a Bullhead in a page from the NYT and the fish actually complained, saying it was “too stinky”.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Oh, good idea!

While we’re at it: Why not an automobile mandate? I mean, we need factories available for the next World War II and all …

eforhan on April 3, 2012 at 9:14 AM

I use Newspapers on the floor of my mommies basement in case of accidents!
liberal4life at 9:15 AM April 1, 2012

KOOLAID2 on April 3, 2012 at 9:15 AM

First we must stop selling papers across state lines, have price controls on advertising and mandate content, then and only then will we have “paper justice” as required by the Constitution.

tim c on April 3, 2012 at 9:17 AM

When they stopped being the Fourth Estate and became a poitical arm of the DNC…sure we quit buying the paper.

KOOLAID2 on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Sadly too true…..not even worth getting for coupons anymore.

ProfShadow on April 3, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Newspapers are now a political arm of the DNC and should be treated as such until further notice.

liberal4life at any time

Electrongod on April 3, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Well, the solution is actually easy. Should this ever come to pass – I’ll subscribe to the UK Sun.
1. They are there for all the really important happenings.
2. Since they are outside of the US, they will have less US News that I don’t care about.
3. My mandatory subscription money won’t be helping the Dems.

Yes, I know Murdoch owns it – I don’t care.

jackal40 on April 3, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Bird Cage Clause.

hillsoftx on April 3, 2012 at 9:23 AM

“If you like your paper, you can keep it.”

And we’re just going to have the IRS monitor your banking, income and employment status to make sure you meet the conditions set forth in the mandate, and then give the IRS enforcement powers to force you to comply with said mandate, as a condition of citizenship.

For your own good, of course.

KMC1 on April 3, 2012 at 9:24 AM

I don’t see any reason to save the dinosaur media – none. That’s how nature works, one species goes extinct (print is dead) and many more are introduced to fill the vacuum.

Dr Evil on April 3, 2012 at 9:27 AM

So, after all those years trying to “save a tree” and stopping my subscriptions to several newspapers along the way…

Can’t catch a break.

Print media, newspapers and magazines, is fading from the public scene. Costs are a key problem. Along with a reluctance to put hard-earned dollars to prop up what has clearly become an information/propaganda arm of the DNC.

Timeliness is a major problem as well. Having to wait till the next morning’s edition to find out what happened today…or having to wait a week or month to find out what happened today, was once acceptable…cheaper than the telegraph…and getting one’s “news” weeks after the event was considered quite timely…back in the day.

But, with the 24-hours news cycle and blogs and other news portals on the net…why would one buy a newspaper, unless it was one strictly addressed to local news or some arcane subject?

Steven, the overall premise, that if the Mandate is upheld…then this “critical” component of our national economy…the print media..would necessitate being saved by government, and we, the people, would/could be required to subscribe to an approved newspaper or journal in order to save the collapse of such a vital component of our economy…is becoming more plausible.

I’d like to see them try.

coldwarrior on April 3, 2012 at 9:28 AM

The question:

But tell me this: if the health care individual mandate survives court challenge, why wouldn’t this?

Indeed.

NotEasilyFooled on April 3, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Solution to Newspapers:

Salary and bonuses are based on revenue, readership and growth – including online. AND work in the opposite manner.

Well, thats the solution to most failing businesses – but as we all know – the overhead, union shakedown costs and bloated loans are keeping them in the red.

But the content of a newspaper is the core problem – and the only way to change said content – is to influence the pocketbooks of those guiding content.

You would see far less money losing opinions – and far more money making reporting.

Odie1941 on April 3, 2012 at 9:31 AM

This is a great idea in the name of fairness. Because, we all know that Republicans have no plan in place for preexisting conditions for those who may lack a newspaper. If newspapers are vital to liberty, then a newspaper mandate is essential to upholding liberty. Why do conservatives hate liberty?

liberal4life April 3, 2012 9:34.
/

ted c on April 3, 2012 at 9:32 AM

When they stopped being the Fourth Estate and became a poitical arm of the DNC…sure we quit buying the paper.

KOOLAID2 on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Even though it is nothing but a propaganda machine for the radical left, I subscribe to the Washington Post for two reasons.

First, I like actually doing the crossword puzzle with a pen on paper over the on-line experience.

Secondly, the plastic sleeve the paper comes in is a perfect size for picking up the dog’s poop.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Which press are we talking about? Who gets credentialed and how does that process work? Fox News – do they get it? HotAir? Instapundit? Tom Maguire?

It would just be lefty press that get certified for this. Nothing like an official press corps, with lefty talking points daily subsidized by me the taxpayer.

Could they mandate it? NPR is the precedent.

Should they mandate it? Steven does a bang up job putting that out there.

Awesome. What a country.

beatcanvas on April 3, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Those trees needed killin’ anyway.

NoDonkey on April 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

“The most beautiful thing about a tree is what you do with it after you cut it down.”

Don’t know who said it first, but it should be said often.

dirtseller on April 3, 2012 at 9:34 AM

But tell me this: if the health care individual mandate survives court challenge, why wouldn’t this?

First of all, the “Fourth Estate” meme is circa French Revolution.

A broccoli mandate is better.

Let’s say the health insurance mandate survives. You are compelled to buy health insurance. Yet these insurance companies would go broke if people were so unhealthy that they extracted more in health care than they put in in premiums. So the State has an interest in making sure you maintain some semblance of good health. To that end, ensuring you eat healthy is part of the regimen. So you need to buy broccoli, a healthy food source. And with Wickard & Raisch, government can forbid you from growing a plant, which means you have to buy. But wait, there’s more. Buying broccoli doesn’t mean eating it. And it’s too expensive to have government monitors watching you eat your vegetables at home, so let’s only allow communal dining, where we can have monitors watch to make sure you eat all of your government issued food. Far-fetched? They do it now in grade school cafeterias, where they’ll snatch your homemade food.

rbj on April 3, 2012 at 9:35 AM

A Modest Proposal, then?

Noocyte on April 3, 2012 at 9:36 AM

I subscribe to the newspaper of the “Save the Trees Foundation” but for some reason it never arrives.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Newspapers have been referred to as the “Fourth Estate” (after Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary)

Yes, but this “fourth estate” nomenclature didn’t start with the Federalist Papers or Thomas Jefferson, or anything like that. The phrase comes from a speech that Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart gave at Yale in 1974. That’s all.

Emperor Norton on April 3, 2012 at 9:36 AM

I am anxiously awaiting for handgun and ammo mandate.

Archivarix on April 3, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Maybe there will be a new Hot Gas newspaper…

jeffn21 on April 3, 2012 at 9:40 AM

But tell me this: if the health care individual mandate survives court challenge, why wouldn’t this?

Well it all comes down to that last sentence, doesn’t it? This is the road that we’ve been led down over the last three years. Everything is commerce…everything can be mandated.

Tomolena1 on April 3, 2012 at 9:40 AM

The Washington Times is a newspaper that will survive or even grow. If other newspapers follow its example, they will do fine.

22044 on April 3, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Newspapers

There’s an app for that.

tomg51 on April 3, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Who shall keep the voters apprised of government activity, if not an organized press?…..A government subsidy is no answer; if you give government the purse strings, what newspaper would feel comfortable criticizing the government that pays them?

WHO is doing it now? The press IS organized, in much the same way as the crime families of the 20th century (that is, IF they existed at all)

What difference would it make to them is they took gubmint money? They are uncomfortable even suggesting that Democrats might be doing anything contrary to the good of the nation.

However, all that goes out the window if a Republican wins the White House.

TugboatPhil on April 3, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Everything is commerce…everything can be mandated.

Tomolena1 on April 3, 2012 at 9:40 AM

My vote is commerce, as it will affect national direction and finiance

tomg51 on April 3, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Newspapers are not important to be guardians of the civil process.

RESPONSIBLE newspapers are.

Don’t ask, I don’t know where they are. :)

itsspideyman on April 3, 2012 at 9:51 AM

There’s a big difference between having access to something and the quality of the something you have access to.

For example, having health insurance doesn’t ensure that you’ll get what you’re expecting (quality care with resulting good health). And if the MSM doesn’t cover stories with proper rigorous standards, what’s the point in having newspapers anyway?

disa on April 3, 2012 at 9:53 AM

The “Fourth Estate” has been the Democratic Party’s version of Pravda for so long I haven’t gotten a paper in about 10 years. I thought Palin was perfectly justified in not answering the, “What papers do you read?” question. There really aren’t any worth reading. (Maybe the Wall Street Journal) I get all my information on-line-yes, some of it may be inaccurate, but it’s free, fast and if you check enough different sources you can probably get a good picture of what is actually going on.

talkingpoints on April 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM

The Washington Times is a newspaper that will survive or even grow. If other newspapers follow its example, they will do fine.

22044 on April 3, 2012 at 9:45 AM

What all papers should be edited by the Moonies? They do a great job at mass weddings but as far as reporting goes, I’ll pass.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Newspapers have been referred to as the “Fourth Estate” (after Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary). . .

The author implies that this term originated in the U.S. Although the analogy is close, it originated in England in the 1700′s.

Dextrous on April 3, 2012 at 9:55 AM

great idea!! next, let’s mandate horses and buggies, it’s not fair that automobiles put then out of business.

Maybe there will be a new Hot Gas newspaper…

jeffn21 on April 3, 2012 at 9:40 AM

sign me up!! =D

I subscribe to the newspaper of the “Save the Trees Foundation” but for some reason it never arrives.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:36 AM

thread has been won

Sachiko on April 3, 2012 at 10:04 AM

The only print media that is not screaming VOTE DEMOCRAT is the National Enquirer.

docflash on April 3, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Newspapers and magazines are going by the wayside because what they print only appeals to the Left. Let them fail. If they were selling advertising and papers it wouldn’t be a problem. None of them seem to understand business and what makes a good paper that will sell and be respected. Right now they are propoganda tools and pretty useless to people who actually want information.

Why would the government fund the business except for a propganda arm when they already have it for free? Silly premise. Next.

BetseyRoss on April 3, 2012 at 10:06 AM

What all papers should be edited by the Moonies? They do a great job at mass weddings but as far as reporting goes, I’ll pass.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM

But you’re ok with newsroom full of Communists?

TugboatPhil on April 3, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Newspapers are 99% controlled by the Democrat-Media Complex, to hell with them!

insidiator on April 3, 2012 at 10:18 AM

What all papers should be edited by the Moonies? They do a great job at mass weddings but as far as reporting goes, I’ll pass.

Happy Nomad on April 3, 2012 at 9:54 AM

The Moonies own it, but you wouldn’t know from the newspaper’s content. The editors & reporters at the Times do journalism properly.

22044 on April 3, 2012 at 10:18 AM

“Fourth Estate”? no.

“Fifth Column”? yes.

orbitalair on April 3, 2012 at 10:19 AM

But you’re ok with newsroom full of Communists?

TugboatPhil on April 3, 2012 at 10:12 AM

lol

22044 on April 3, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Why not go back to town criers?

Queen0fCups on April 3, 2012 at 10:27 AM

I always thought newspapers were called the fourth estate after the three estates of the old French regime, in a self deprecating manner: the clergy, the nobles, the rest of humanity and then such lower orders as mere newspaper people.

Fred 2 on April 3, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Why can’t we bring back papyrus, a far more quickly renewable resource than trees; even bamboo is possible. Think of it: papyrus pulverizes political power paper, profound precipice prevented.

ExpressoBold on April 3, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Not to mention that I can’t wrap fish in a blog editorial, and believe me I tried.

Then again I once wrapped a Bullhead in a page from the NYT and the fish actually complained, saying it was “too stinky”.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

If there was a newspaper mandate, the old grey lady NYT could afford better hygiene.

WhatNot on April 3, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Newspapers and magazines are going by the wayside because what they print only appeals to the Left. Let them fail. If they were selling advertising and papers it wouldn’t be a problem. None of them seem to understand business and what makes a good paper that will sell and be respected. Right now they are propoganda tools and pretty useless to people who actually want information.

Why would the government fund the business except for a propganda arm when they already have it for free? Silly premise. Next.

BetseyRoss on April 3, 2012 at 10:06 AM

^^^This. The good ones such as the Washington Times, who make every attempt to present both sides, will thrive. Virtually all the other left-leaning papers will eventually go the way of Air America.

PatriotGal2257 on April 3, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Gee, I wonder why just about the only newspapers in the country that are very profitable are the Wall St. Journal and the Washington Times. Could it be the same reason that Rush, Levin, Hannity, et al are wildly successful while Air America is in the bankruptcy dustbin; or why Fox News is so successful while only crickets seem to be watching MSNBC?

Just sayin’

NOMOBO on April 3, 2012 at 10:39 AM

LMFAO! Rich Lowry has a field day with Keith Olberdunce.

Meltdown with Keith Olbermann

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/295109/meltdown-keith-olbermann-rich-lowry

Must read. LOL!

Resist We Much on April 3, 2012 at 10:42 AM

…what newspaper would feel comfortable criticizing the government that pays them?

Why the hypothetical? They are already paid not to criticize the Democratic Party – we just don’t know the details of how it is done yet. Unless you believe that a business can survive for years delivering worthless propaganda without an extra source of revenue under the table.

drunyan8315 on April 3, 2012 at 10:42 AM

The Philadelphia Inquirer was just sold again for the sixth time in five years. The paper was bought by a consortium of Democrat political operatives in South Jersey/Philadelphia for 55 million which is 10x’s less than the original transaction price five years ago.

I always like pointing out how unions and Democrats always manage to kill businesses. Now they can use the Inquirer with which to wipe their sphincters and tell the ignoratti how great Obama and Michael Nutter are.

DevilsPrinciple on April 3, 2012 at 10:53 AM

…if the health care individual mandate survives court challenge, why wouldn’t this?

Exactly. For that matter, any other ‘mandate’ our government comrades deem needed for the great unwashed would follow.

On the other hand, we might get some Jim Dandy newspaper titles such as The Huffington Evening Post or perhaps Pravda Kos.

Not to mention that I can’t wrap fish in a blog editorial, and believe me I tried.

Then again I once wrapped a Bullhead in a page from the NYT and the fish actually complained, saying it was “too stinky”.

Bishop on April 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Bishop, you’re killing me today!

ghostwalker1 on April 3, 2012 at 11:02 AM

When they stopped being the Fourth Estate and became a poitical arm of the DNC…sure we quit buying the paper.

KOOLAID2 on April 3, 2012 at 9:12 AM

same here … we do buy the Sunday paper … coupon mania ….

and since I don’t have a bird and no puppies … don’t need a daily …

conservative tarheel on April 3, 2012 at 11:03 AM

I think it is the only way to save the papers and I believe that history will bear me out.

The printing press put town criers out of business because with a printing press people could print out and distribute whatever they found to be interesting and newsworthy whereas the town crier only announced whatever the King, Emperor, or local Burgermeister told him to say. If only the town criers had a way to force everyone to not only listen to them but pay them for their service to the community, we would still have town criers to this day.

Of course, back in the day, the town criers didn’t know about personal mandates, so the newspapers have an edge. That’s progress for you.

Lily on April 3, 2012 at 11:09 AM

This next generation will not have the sentimental value for Newsprint as we know today – at least not the daily paper. Tree huggers rejoice !

FlaMurph on April 3, 2012 at 11:11 AM

A broccoli mandate is better.

Wrong! Just think of the benefits of newspapers. The Secretary of Health can mandate what must be in the newspaper (at least 2 positive front page articles on the regime per day), provide health “advice” and even health services. Before you see a doctor you must submit your symptoms to the newspaper’s health adviser who will determine based on age, possible contagiousness, and symptoms whether you warrant the opportunity to even go to the doctor’s office. If the answer is “no”, they can prescribe some home remedies that can save on the pharmaceutical bills and just may work.

The daily newspaper can also provide the daily allowed diet along with cooking instructions. If you are allowed to go to the doctor, based on the criteria above, the newspaper can provide diagrams on the agencies you must first pass through to get there.

In closing, I’m all for the newspaper mandate. The final use each day will be to use it to clean up all the political bullpucky provided by your US Government.

katablog.com on April 3, 2012 at 11:12 AM

News media are no longer the fourth estate. The founders assumed that news would be distrustful of government power not just power when one party is in control.

jukin3 on April 3, 2012 at 11:16 AM

This post is raaaaacist. Or something. Because BUSHITLER!!!!!

Physics Geek on April 3, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Newspaper readership isn’t falling just because of the internet. People know when they’re being fed garbage under the guise of “reporting”. Several papers are having no problems. But then, they “report” the news.

GarandFan on April 3, 2012 at 11:32 AM

The country needs to start arresting MSM owners – including newspaper owners – reporters, editors, etc and put them on trial for treason, etc. E.g. how did Dan Rather get away with trying to influence a Presidential Election!? Another recent example is this Trayvon Martin case…geez!

Forget mandates – Death sentences are deserved for most reporters!

Karmi on April 3, 2012 at 11:45 AM

If you take in too few vitamins you will require medical attention. Ergo, the government can force you to buy (and consume) vitamins.

WitchDoctor on April 3, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Steven: Someone famous once said something like; “If I had to choose between government without newspapers and newspapers without government, I would choose the latter”. What those involved with printing the papers have moved away from is the part about “news”.

dahni on April 3, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Let’s extend that “newspaper mandate” a step further, and require every US citizen to purchase one book every fiscal quarter. Just think how much public discourse will be enriched if every one is required to purchase a copy of “Dreams of My Father” every three months. There’s any number of books people can be required to purchase and read to produce the properly indoctrinated “voter”. Just think Mao’s Little Red Book. And the royalties from those sales will serve to ensure that none of America’s “Great Thinkers” will ever have to perform any task more onerous than tapping a few keys on a keyboard, thus leaving them ample time to turn out even more “scholarly” works. Win-win!!!

catsandbooks on April 3, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Ministry of Truth! Or, alternatively, “The Department of Transparency and Information”

JustTruth101 on April 3, 2012 at 12:41 PM

I am going to participate in newspaper commerce without a mandate by sitting in my recliner and deciding to not buy a newspaper at a monthly home delivery cost of $30. So over the next year, I will contribute $360 dollars to the GDP in commerce, and I won’t have to write a check or even leave my recliner. That’s the beauty of ObamaNomics. Doing nothing can contribute great things to society and to economic growth.

stefano1 on April 3, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Newspapers are more than one hundred years old.

/Ezra Klein

kjl291 on April 3, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Once the government has free rein to not tax you, but forcibly spend your money for you… you have no money.

What is to stop the government from spending 100% of my income every month on things THEY think I need?

Oh sorry, it’s the government, I mean what is to stop the government from spending 150% of my income every month on things they think I need? (like they ever stop at 100%)

Once we decide that the government can spend your money without your consent and without taxing it from you first… you have no money; you have a loan from government that can be called in at any time.

gekkobear on April 3, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Single-paper is the only solution.

crowtreboot on April 3, 2012 at 1:45 PM

could you have made that argument before the initial vote?

then one of the state’s lawyers could have made that unique argument….

the problem with us republicans, a day late and a dollar short on the messaging game!

Dr. Demento on April 3, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Once the government has free rein to not tax you, but forcibly spend your money for you… you have no money.

What is to stop the government from spending 100% of my income every month on things THEY think I need?

Once we decide that the government can spend your money without your consent and without taxing it from you first… you have no money; you have a loan from government that can be called in at any time.

gekkobear on April 3, 2012 at 1:15 PM

That’s an extraordinarily insightful argument.

JustTruth101 on April 3, 2012 at 3:33 PM