How The Citizens United Ruling Can Save Print Journalism
The Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United -- which, by a 5-4 ruling, will allow corporations to drown out the voices of Americans not equipped to spend millions of dollars to bend the ears of their public servants -- is not going over well with the public.
As Evan McMorris-Santoro reports in Talking Points Memo, a recent poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research reveals that "more than 60 percent of respondents say [the ruling] was a bad idea." But did it occur to more than 60 percent of respondents that the Citizens United ruling might save print journalism?
What if all the corporations, which are now newly enabled to dump obscene amounts of corporate cash on issue advertising, could be somehow induced to spend that money exclusively on newspaper ads? Newspapers would get to keep killing trees, that's what!
This was an idea floated -- with tongue located in the vicinity of cheek, obviously -- by Henry Banta of Niemann Watchdog. He shared his thoughts with the Huffington Post today, via email:
I suppose under the Court's theory we can't prohibit corporate TV ads, but it would be easy to make it very inconvenient -- e.g. require an on-record vote of the board of directors for TV ads but not for print. We could really do it up big and make print ads tax-deductable. In any case, use it as an opportunity to bail out the struggling print media.
Seriously. Why the hell not? I suppose that in this environment, our newspapers would end up clogged with an unholy amount of rank political claptrap, which would run the risk of having naked corporate boosterism run alongside -- and potentially appear indistinct from -- the actual journalistic content of those newspapers. Which basically means that nothing would change, except that newspapers will have more money.
Anyway, the idea is probably unworkable for a host of reasons. But I guarantee you, when Marcus Brauchli reads this idea, he's gonna pop some wood at least for a minute.