To save journalism, save the net

In a smartly argued editorial, Dan Gillmor argues that the most meaningful subsidy that any government can give to its journalists is a free, fast, fair and open Internet on which new journalistic business models can flourish without interference by corrupt telcos and self-interested media empires:

First, direct subsidies for journalism are the wrong way to go, even dangerous. But we absolutely could use the kind of indirect help — taxpayer-funded deployment of high-capacity, wide-open broadband networks — that would be an analogue to the early American postal subsidies, and then some. This would be essential infrastructure, aimed at beefing up all 21st Century commerce and communications, including but not limited to journalism.

Second, if we got serious about broadband in this way, entrepreneurs would almost certainly come up with the journalism, including a variety of business models to augment or replace today's, that would provide the public good we all agree comes with journalism and other trustworthy information.

To be fair, some of the subsidy advocates say they don't want to prop up newspapers per se, though some of their remedies would do just that; others are less shy, and their explicit goal is to save newspapers.

Let's subsidize open broadband, not journalists