December 8, 2009

Rupert Murdoch: Journalism and Freedom - WSJ.com

Rupert Murdoch: Journalism and Freedom - WSJ.com:

Both Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, and Rupert Murdoch, News Corp CEO [owner of the WSJ], have recently written in the WSJ about the future of news organizations and the role of technology in shaping successful business models. Schmidt's piece is here. [NB: both may have a limited online life because of WSJ's paid subscription service.]

Both pieces are required reading if you care about the future of journalism, but this quote from Murdoch strikes a responsive chord with me (emphasis added in last paragraph).

"The prospect of the U.S. government becoming directly involved in commercial journalism ought to be chilling for anyone who cares about freedom of speech. The Founding Fathers knew that the key to independence was to allow enterprises to prosper and serve as a counterweight to government power. It is precisely because newspapers make profits and do not depend on the government for their livelihood that they have the resources and wherewithal to hold the government accountable.

When the representatives of 13 former British colonies established a new order for the ages, they built it on a sturdy foundation: a free and informed citizenry. They understood that an informed citizenry requires news that is independent from government. That is one reason they put the First Amendment first.

Our modern world is faster moving and far more complex than theirs. But the basic truth remains: To make informed decisions, free men and women require honest and reliable news about events affecting their countries and their lives. Whether the newspaper of the future is delivered with electrons or dead trees is ultimately not that important. What is most important is that the news industry remains free, independent—and competitive."
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