The government is giving $55 million of taxpayers money to support what it describes as public interest media. The obvious danger of this is it will compromise recipients’ political comments. To deny that is naive and invites cynicism.
But what puzzles me is why, alone in the world, this is necessary?
Unlike New Zealand, Europe and the Americas are taking a beating from Covid yet there’s no dishing out of public money to “sustain public interest media”, other of course than lock-down wage subsidies.
Public interest quality journalism is certainly important. The Herald is currently bragging about its readership growth success and its newspaper is packed with advertising. Plainly its survivability is not at issue.
But take the Stuff fleet of newspapers. If, as I suspect, they will go broke, a void will arise and in a market economy, will quickly be filled without any help from the taxpayer. So too with smaller publications and other specialist media. This action is a truly bad decision in a liberal market economy nation and no matter how unwittingly, ultimately leads to a de facto state-controlled media, more applicable to authoritarian nations.