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March 5, 2007 / Toby Dayton

Did The FCC Kill The Daily Newspaper?

In “Breaking The News,” a great story that appeared in Mother Jones magazine, Eric Klinenberg basically cites the FCC and its loosening/repeal of the cross-ownership ban as the primary force eroding the daily newspaper industry. While competitive forces, the web, technology, and a general explosion of media alternatives have certainly dealt substantial blows to what might be an outdated business model and value proposition, there is no doubt that large media conglomerates have found it difficult to maintain a strong, differentiated local presence in the midst of cost-cutting, layoffs, and frequent ownership/management changes. It also the case that rather than increasing local coverage, cross-media ownership has resulted in less local coverage, at least according to an internal FCC study that was buried and eventually ordered destroyed. While the recent efforts of billionaires like Jack Welch, David Geffen, Eli Broad, and Ron Burkle to buy their local dailies might appear to be an equal mix of egocentrism and altruism, a return to local ownership might be the key to keeping the industry alive a little bit longer.

[tags]Mother Jones, FCC, Media, Media Consolidation, Jack Welch, David Geffen, Eli Broad, Ron Burkle, Daily Newspapers, Eric Klinenberg, Death of Newspapers[/tags]

One Comment

  1. dagNABbit / Mar 5 2007 3:14 pm

    I think Klinenberg’s creditbility has been hurt on this subject. If you haven’t seen the Slate piece demolishing his picture of the Minot disaster (supposedly worsened by Clear Channel/consolidation) I highly recommend it: http://www.slate.com/id/2157395

    And I’m not just being disagreeable. I’ve read the MoJo piece and found it unconvincing. He neatly moves past other explanations for the decline of regional newspapers, the biggest one being Craigslist. In fact, he doesn’t even mention Craigslist. Heck, even Craig Newmark blames himself for that. Ultimately, consolidation is a symptom of the changing media landscape, not a cause.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I consult for the NAB in Washington, and on this issue in particular.

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