[...] Those in the administration who clearly view independent journalism as an obstacle to "change we can believe in" and their numerous allies in the old media, non-profit, and academic communities who either share a similar ideological vision or see the FTC process as their salvation against the Internet, will no doubt dismiss my assertions as extemism or alarmism.
Fine, call me whatever, but what they cannot deny is what is clearly written in the FTC document and what it reveals about the intention behind the initiative, which is to transform the news industry from an information product collected by private individuals and entrepreneurs as a service to private buyers, to a government-regulated public utility providing a "public good," as defined and regulated by government.
The authors hide this dangerous intention behind carefully worded expressions of concern for preserving "quality journalism" and "addressing emerging gaps in reporting," and they rationalize their proposed approach of massive government intervention in the news process as simply an extension of what government has always done via postal subsidies, tax breaks, and so forth.
Jeff Jarvis, a veteran of the old media and a pioneer of the Internet-based new media with his Buzz Machine blog, provides a thorough analysis of what the FTC is considering and explicates the dangerous consequences that will follow.
Conservative journalists will do well not to roll their eyes impatiently with liberal colleagues who don't understand that government always expands its control over any activity it either funds or regulates, and therefore must be limited at every level to well-defined, narrowly circumscribed powers that only it can fulfill, as was done by the U.S. Constitution.
Better to explain yet again that the original intention of the Founders with respect to the media - "Congress shall make no law respecting ... the freedom of the press" - is the key to saving independent journalism.
Then we must remind them that the adversarial relationship that is supposed to exist between journalists and public officials must apply no matter who those public officials might be or what political party or ideological school of thought they represent.
Elected officials' first thought is always about re-election, while career government workers' is job security. A journalist's first thought is supposed to be getting the facts.
To that end, we're supposed to be adversaries, not co-conspirators, partners, favored "stakeholders," or beneficiaries. That's why the Constitution made us independent.
Read the details. What this FTC document says. Unbelievable. If we allow this, if we let it happen, then we deserve what we get.
Seizing The News Business