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Friday, April 24, 2020

If You Kill Capitalism, You Kill the Media

The economic destruction of our government-imposed, nationwide (for the most part) shutdown has been unprecedented, widely felt, and well documented. There’s no need to get into all of those details here, save one exception: newspapers. The UK’s The Guardian provides revealing details:
The devastating sweep of Covid-19 is the biggest story in a generation, and for most newspapers and news sites it has triggered record numbers of readers. Yet the virus, industry experts warn, will spell the end for “hundreds” of those organizations, laying off journalists and closing titles.

Media outlets across the US have already responded to a huge drop in advertising triggered by the economic shutdown by sacking scores of employees. Some newspapers, just as demand is at its highest, have stopped printing – reverting to a digital-only operation that is just as vulnerable to the whims of advertisers.

The decrease in advertising was swift, as businesses tightened spending due to the economic impact of Covid-19. For a journalism industry already barely scraping by, the impact was almost immediate.
The Guardian goes on to quote Penny Abernathy, “the Knight chair in journalism and digital media economics at the University of North Carolina.” Ms. Abernathy predicts that hundreds of U.S. newspapers and websites will close. She graphically describes it as, “An extinction-level event will probably hit the smaller ones really hard, as well as the ones that are part of the huge chains.” Hey media, are you ready to end the shutdown yet?

I was aware of what The Guardian was reporting, though not the scale, days prior to encountering the article referenced above. This is due to an email we received from our local newspaper last week. As most well know, for a couple of decades now, newspapers across America have been on the decline. Newspapers in Northeast Georgia have been no exception.

Since about half of newspaper revenue comes from advertising, the main reason local newspapers are suffering now like never before is because this shutdown has so devastated local businesses, many of whom currently have little to no reason to advertise. Our small local newspaper, The Gainesville Times, recently detailed their financial struggles in an email and in an online article.

Things have gotten so bad for our local paper that they are now asking for donations to support their journalistic efforts. In addition, they seem to be hoping for a federal bailout. Just a few days ago, after their request for donations, The Gainesville Times ran an article detailing how a letter to President Trump from members of Congress suggested “federal spending to go toward advertising that would benefit local media outlets.”

The article hopefully quotes the Congressional letter:
Local news and information on radio, television and newsprint is more in demand than ever, yet local media outlets are experiencing catastrophic losses in the advertising revenue that allows them to continue investing in providing that news to the public. This national emergency has caused a near halt to local business activity and in turn, the regular and vital advertising they purchase from local media. Without advertising revenue, local media outlets cannot survive.
I hate what this “national emergency”—or, more accurately, our government-inflicted economic destruction—is doing to all areas of our economy—including journalism. However, like virtually all of the mainstream media throughout America, I can recall nothing The Gainesville Times has done to at least give voice to those who believe it’s time to end this shutdown!

In addition to near-endless fearmongering over the Wuhan virus and downplaying any success in fighting it, the mainstream media has virtually ignored the widespread economic suffering that is the result of our government-imposed shutdown. Where are the stories on local businesses and employees suffering because of the shutdown? Where are the stories on those perhaps on the verge of losing their businesses? Where are the stories on families suffering because parents are unable to work? No doubt those stories exist.

To be fair, we do not take the print edition of any newspaper, so perhaps some of those stories are there. Even if that is the case, they have been far too rare. What’s more, in their latest editorial (Sunday, April 19), The Gainesville Times editorial board continued the fatalistic and foolish message that “We have to stay the course, stay home and stay smart if we are to stay healthy and stay alive.” Okay, but if that is the case, American capitalism will remain severely hamstrung, and the advertising revenue newspapers so depend upon will continue to dry up. In other words, a federal bailout can never replace capitalism.

As bad as The Gainesville Times has been on matters concerning our shutdown, Georgia’s largest newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC)—otherwise known as head of DNC print propaganda for the southeastern United States—has been worse.

Not even 24 hours after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced his first stage in the “reopening” of Georgia—because the models that Gov. Kemp had been relying on finally caught up with the real data—the AJC went on the attack. To begin their efforts at undermining the reopening of Georgia, the AJC ran an article that supposedly detailed how many of Kemp’s Wuhan virus task force “didn’t know about his order to reopen businesses.”

However, the article only mentions a handful of unhappy committee members (out of nearly 100), and how they were unaware of “some businesses” Kemp was allowing to reopen. Of course, that’s the real story here, isn’t it? Businesses all across America are being allowed to run because of a decision from a government executive. That should bother or scare nearly every right-thinking American, yet as our shutdown rolls on, the media merely yawns, implying “nothing to see here.”

And how many of those criticizing Kemp’s decision are sitting at home and doing without a significant portion of their income? It seems that the loudest critics of the “end the shutdown” movement—whether politicians, media, or others still working or getting paid—are not being hurt by the economic devastation sweeping the U.S.

After their task force article, the same day (4/21) the AJC ran an opinion piece, featured prominently on their website entitled, “When it comes to his pandemic decision, Brian Kemp is who he said he was.” The piece begins by labeling Operation Gridlock as a “Fox News-endorsed protest against shelter-in-place policies.” The column ignores the fact that the Operation Gridlock protests across the U.S. are the result of lives and businesses being destroyed because of these government-imposed shutdowns.

Later in the day, the AJC continued attacking Kemp with an articlenot an “opinion” piece—whose headline declared, “As business restrictions ease, Georgians on their own to fight virus.” As I stated at the time, this headline was nothing but pure evil—a brazen propagandist lie! Before editing their online piece—almost certainly after they saw my comments on the article—the author implied that Kemp was telling Georgians that it was “safe” to go about their business.

Of course, Kemp wasn’t telling people that it was “safe” to do anything, and neither is he telling business owners that they must open or customers that they must patronize any business. He was merely allowing people—again, tragic that we’re in such a position at all—who want to get on with their lives to do so. And neither was he leaving anyone “on their own” in our fight against the Wuhan virus. I doubt the AJC author himself really believes that. That accusation was made merely to hurt Kemp politically and further the preferred politics of the liberal fools that dominate the AJC. For publishing such garbage, the AJC richly deserves every decrease in advertising revenue that they experience!

Instead of fostering seemingly endless fear and sheltering in place orders over the Wuhan virus, the American media could do much to help end our shutdown. However, because they have been so focused on hurting—and ultimately getting rid of—President Trump and his allies like Gov. Kemp, the shutdown messaging dominates the mainstream media. Thus businesses—small and large alike—across America continue to struggle, and advertising budgets continue to shrink. So another great lesson from the Wuhan shutdown is revealed: if you kill capitalism in America, the media dies with it (right ESPN?).

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2020, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America

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