Last June, I warned the media wanted credit for electing Obama, credit it could call in post-election to help arrest their declining influence. I wrote:
The media [will] falsely paint McCain as Bush. . . because given [the media’s] slipping power, they want to be seen as so biased in favor of Obama that they will be blamed for (actually credited with) Barack’s win.
Now the L.A. Times’ Tim Rutten is calling in the chips newspapers think they earned by electing Obama. Rutton says,
Unless . . . newspapers find a way to charge for the content they currently give away free on their websites . . . most papers won't survive . . . Over the last three years, American newspapers alone have lost 40% of their classified advertising -- $7 billion worth -- to free Internet sites such as Craigslist. Over that same period, display advertising sales have dropped by a quarter, which amounts to an additional $12 billion each year.
. . . newspapers can't begin charging for online content or licensing their journalism to search engines unless all . . . do it at once. . . newspaper proprietors ought to go to Congress and demand [an] exemption from the antitrust and price-fixing statutes. . . Nancy Pelosi has endorsed the idea. The law, she said recently, needs to . . . "reflect current market realities." The Justice Department's antitrust division, however, opposes the baseball-style exemption. The Obama administration . . . needs to change its mind.