Bailout Contagion: Rescue Print Media

Print media should ride the fumes of the big three’s inevitable bailout and ask for its own.

The solution to the ongoing woes of writers, editors and photographers everywhere began to coalesce last week as I watched congressional hearings with the CEOs of America’s failing automobile giants. Simultaneously, news flew across Twitter that the Rocky Mountain News is up for sale. On a local media listserve I follow, freelancers for the Rocky and other failing publications sought out advice from veterans who’ve weathered recession before. Today, the Tribune Co. is “Flirting with Bankruptcy” says the NYT.

Are we print journalists any different than the auto workers, or even Wall Street? Like the auto industry, we stuck to an eco-unfriendly model far too long and were short-sighted and late in adopting new technology. Like the financial analysts, we rely on complex yet bullish financing to make ends meet. If any part of the shabby structure fails–like classified ads giving way to Craig’s List–the whole publication is in trouble.

We’re bleeding jobs, too. Journalists have faced job cuts for years as magazines and newspapers have culled their ranks and even outsourced jobs to India. Are we missing any of the bailout credentials? Wait–a free press is an essential component of any democracy. That gives us the ideological and cultural cred we were missing to join in bailout contagion.

Doesn’t that make us too big to fail?