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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Should net taxpayers really co-finance print media? My God, no way!

By: Kavarna Hayek

In recent days, I have been reading, listening, and watching increasingly loud discussions about how the print media (mainly newspapers) in Slovenia are on the verge of collapse and how net tax payers should help them.

The main reason that would justify the use of budget money for the survival of print media is said to be that quality journalism disappears with the collapse of the press. This is also the opinion of the Ministry of Culture: “We also believe that the existence of quality print media is crucial for citizens’ right to information, as daily newspapers and political weeklies in particular remain important sources of information and original journalistic reporting.” Really?

The media landscape has changed a lot in this millennium. The younger generations, who are already fully digitised, hardly ever pick up print media. Moreover, they do not even like the free newspapers and magazines. Some media quickly adapted to this (Finance), made most of their content paid for and transferred it to online media, others waited a long time and relied on loyal readers who swear by print. There are several reasons why these are becoming fewer and fewer; one is certain that the generation that was used to holding a newspaper in their hands is slowly dying.

Problems for printed journals are also caused by the ever-increasing costs of printing and distribution, which are the result of rising paper and energy costs. These costs are already so high that print media barely get 50 percent of the copy sold. All this is no reason why the government should intervene in the print media market with subsidies: the media landscape was not changed by the print media, which would become of lower quality or have a different ideological orientation, the changes in the media landscape are directed by the (changed habits) of consumers. Therefore, any government funding of the print media would be prolonging the agony and literally burning taxpayers’ money. The market has to do its thing: some journals will survive, others will not; some will adapt (completely digitise) and maybe succeed (they already missed the right time), others will close the door. It is only the consumer who chooses the winners and losers in the media market with his wallet. Therefore, we net tax payers must not allow the established media, which are the loudest these days, to tell us that they are the best that we readers can get.

 

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