Newspapers as a right

One thing I forgot to say in all the posts about newspapers and business below:

Newspapers have neither a constitutional nor a God-given right to exist. They exist if they serve their communities well and are supported by those communities in one way or another.

  • Tank

    Oh lord. I just imagine you in a high-chair when you say things like that. As if we didn’t know that in the first place.

    Tree. Paper. Print. And now Jeff tells us that it doesn’t have to be like that? Well noooooooooooooooo shit.

  • Alex Kanakis

    I certainly agree with your assertion that newspapers are neither endowed by God, Buddha, Ganesha, or whatever (choose your crutch), nor the Constitution (not a crutch). But I have to differ with your assertion that newspapers “exist if they serve their communities well.” There are too many newspapers in too many communities that do exist without serving their communities well. These no-news newspapers are not what Madison had in mind when he made that too-often-quoted quote about “popular Government without popular information…” Instead, most newspapers today are more about celebrity culture and promoting the powers that be (you know, The Man and His minions). And, unfortunately, not enough readers are demanding that newspapers serve their communities well, i.e., “well” in the way that Madison envisioned.

  • The problem, Tank, is that most journalist don’t understand this. I don’t fault Jarvis or think he’s being snarky by saying it. It’s obvious yes, but most journalists honestly believe newspapers are their bullhorn to the masses by divine right.

  • Gerard

    Jeff – What are you thinking? Newspapers have no constitutional right to exist? Of course they do! The constitutional right for them to exist is the right to Freedom of the Press. That is a constitutional right for any newspaper to exist – no matter how poor or distasteful. That’s Civics 101. Are you feeling okay tonight?

  • They also exists if they just complain incessantly about crap.

  • Ron Pettengill


    why do you think that cities like London can support a diverse newspaper culture and American cities cannot? I subscribe to the obvious that newspapers are subject to the harsh realities of the market just like every other private business, but as an American expatriate in London, I do enjoy the fact that i have so many choices in print media on a daily and weekly basis.

  • When’s the last time your newspaper gave you real time updates? Paradigm shifts in industry can be soo much fun to watch.

  • Gerard: JJ means that in a different way that you do. Newspapers have a right to exist under the first amendment *if they can*. But there is no “newspaper clause” that says that newspapers must be protected from the advent of the internet.

    The belief that they should have a right to exist contrary to market forces has been around for a while, though. People in Dallas long ago decried the folding of the old Dallas Times Herald because it left the city with only *one* major daily. The Times Herald was a bit more leftist and reactionary than the Morning News, so it was not just the absence of competition that upset people, it was the belief that free speech had taken a hit.

    The Times Herald of course had the right to exist if they could sell papers and make a profit; but I think you’d get a fight if people were asked to pay an extra tax in order to prop up a failing industry, especially when that failing industry seeks to advance an agenda contrary to the political leanings of many of the taxpayers.

  • Thank you for translating for me, Carson. I needed that. what he said.

  • From Joel: “It’s obvious yes, but most journalists honestly believe newspapers are their bullhorn to the masses by divine right.”

    For Pete’s sake. Please name one journalist who ever said that to you. Journalists are people who enjoy writing, are civic-minded enough to feel it is worth making beans to serve as a watchdog for the public and who spend years learning about things like the school board or the zoning commission in your stead. Divine right? Hardly. If anything, there is the feeling that we’re giving you what you need, not necessarily what you want. That’s always been the market problem for papers (or any hard news done well). It’s like medicine, and most people would rather have candy. Let the market push papers out of existence (in whatever form you chose… I’m not wedded to ink on paper) and I’ll be curious to see how well-informed you are.

    Does your local paper not give you what you want? Tell them, and not only that, but tell the corporate masters to quit making newsroom cuts.

  • Ravo

    interesting article…

    Ideological Journalists Thrown to the Greedy Capitalist Pigs.

    “According to the professor, his students have the God-given right to write as they see fit while playing out a self-defined role of providing “the news” to a grateful public.”

  • Hey, Jeff, glad you said something about communities. I’m curious: What’s your definition of news?

  • BlessMe

    Oh, for goodness sakes. Another faux issue for the Blog community to foment about. Show me one example of anyone in the newspaper business saying newspapers have a God-given right to exist? A constitutional right for sure, but a God-given right? No one says that. This whole thread is nothing but a further example, as if any were needed, of the rampant intellectual dishonesty in the Blogosphere.