(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) The Government Accountability Office recently released a report proposing that the federal government needs to get more involved in local journalism in order to combat so-called “misinformation.”
According to the Daily Wire, the GAO report indicated that local news outlets are not economically viable, with over 2,000 domestic newspapers closing since the early 2000s, and have left a vacuum that the government could fill.
“[T]he market may not produce public interest content sufficient for a well-informed society,” stated the GAO. “Experts conveyed that the main goal of journalism is to have a well-informed society, and policies that aim to support this goal need to be innovation-friendly, forward-looking, and inclusive.”
Tax incentives, tax credits, federal funding, government advertising, and taxpayer-sponsored grants or loans and other forms of government intervention are being treated as possible solutions to boost local news outlets.
The report also insisted that the government must establish policies to protect “public interest journalism.”
“According to literature and participants, direct government funding and tax incentives supporting nonprofit news organizations can be useful in addressing market failure if there are sufficient safeguards to ensure independence,” stated the report.
The GAO added that “public interest journalism” is a “public good.”
The public is not interested in government-sponsored journalism. GAO asserted that this is likely because citizens do not know of the many benefits having a single, government-approved message might bring to the news cycle.
“[W]hen consumers do not perceive or internalize the benefit of this information to them, or when they expect to receive it for free, they are not willing to pay for this type of journalism,” stated the GAO.
Some believe that this sudden interest in local news outlets might stem from the government’s interest in federally-funded censorship.
The GAO sent the report to Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel, who has previously advocated for “chang[ing] local journalism.”