Journalism Needs Government Help???

The President of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, makes a case in today’s Wall Street Journal that journalism needs government government help.  One of the staples of his case:

To take a very current example, we trust our great newspapers to collect millions of dollars in advertising from BP while reporting without fear or favor on the company’s environmental record only because of a professional culture that insulates revenue from news judgment.

Actually, we don’t.  Or, at least, I don’t.  You are very silly if you do not think the source of advertising dollars has no effect on reporting just as you’d be very silly to think that funding journalism from government would have no effect.

Update:

Here’s another gem from Bollinger’s column:

There are examples of other institutions in the U.S. where state support does not translate into official control. The most compelling are our public universities and our federal programs for dispensing billions of dollars annually for research. Those of us in public and private research universities care every bit as much about academic freedom as journalists care about a free press.

Bollinger tries to hide a strawman in the first sentence with “…does not translate into official control.”  I imagine few critics of Bollinger’s case would argue that government funding would need to lead to “official control” to cause trust issues.

Scroll up to the first paragraph I quoted.  There he makes a case that merely funding from companies like BP leads to credibility Continue reading