By Gautham Nagesh - 09/16/10 07:18 PM EDT
"Combining these metrics with government-sponsored journalism will clearly upset an already precarious relationship. Funding — no matter how well-insulated from editorial decisions — will only exacerbate concerns about a captured press," Baker added.
Baker acknowledged the changes facing traditional news outlets, including the shuttering of 142 daily and weekly newspapers last year and advertising revenues that have shrunk by 45 percent over the last decade. But she said she is optimistic because so many companies are tackling the challenge of online reporting by adapting their reporting methods to the digital marketplace.
"In the end, proactive government intervention into journalism is not just expensive and constitutionally problematic, it is also unnecessarily defeatist: It undermines the incentives for companies to create the next great journalistic endeavor," Baker said, adding that new media ventures seem to be launching every month.
Baker specifically referenced TBD, a two-month-old cross-platform local news website for the Washington metro area, which she said is leveraging its connections to local TV stations as well as social media and cable to provide readers with information.
"Many media players and efforts need time to find their footing in this new digital era, and we must provide these companies with the time to develop a healthy, innovative industry built for long-term sustainability."
Baker said while the government shouldn't prop up the media industry, it should examine ownership regulations in most markets that prevent newspapers and TV stations from combining their newsgathering operations.
"As a society, we increasingly want video, news and audio in a single converged format, yet the government’s rules hamstring the ability of traditional media companies from moving beyond yesterday’s technological silos," Baker said. "I encourage discussions about how we can better tailor our rules to the current media marketplace."