NJ Passes State-Funded News Bill - Isn't That Called 'Propaganda?'

P. Gardner Goldsmith | July 10, 2018

Glorious news! Following in the footsteps of the Obama-approved and promoted “Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Act” of 2016, which sets aside over $150 million in federal tax funds to hand to dinosaur news media outlets, the legislature of New Jersey is finally ready to do its part! Isn’t that exciting?

Absolutely! As Joe Setyon reports for Reason, both the NJ House and Senate recently passed a bill to create the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium - state-funded news – beyond the already hair-graying public television and radio systems and state-funded colleges in the Garden State.

It’s a $5 million handout to “local press”, because, you know, when people don’t find it in their interest to purchase local newspapers or visit local news websites, they should be forced to pay for what they don’t want…


Writes Setyon:

The legislation in question creates a nonprofit group, the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, charged with approving grant applications for local news. The bill has passed both houses of the state legislature; Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has not yet signed it, but on Sunday he did sign a state budget that sets aside the money.

Isn’t that often the way? Whether it’s a stretch of old countryside, an old sports park, or an “historical site”, the geniuses in government will supersede individual interests -- which have already been shown in the marketplace by people spending their money, time, and efforts elsewhere – and shift their cash into something that should die off or be replaced, based on consumer interest.

The conceit is stunning, but, very nearly, perennial, and it runs counter to every principle of economics that has allowed mankind to succeed and do better over time. The key to understand about economics is that valuation is always subjective. Each of us owns himself or herself, and only by allowing others to show their preferences in the market can we see how people value products and resources. Only through this process can resources be allocated to where people find them most useful.

At times, that will mean local newspapers. At times, that will mean websites, and the waning interest in the local newspapers must be reflected by a downturn in viability. It is Economics 101, but politicians don’t get it. They fall into the trap of attaching themselves to sentimentalism and “tradition”, and then forcing others to back their sentimental preferences and call it “historic” or “culturally significant”.

Setyon adds:

The liberal Free Press Action Fund has been pushing for such legislation for years. The group initially asked for a much larger endowment of $100 million, but it still greeted the news with pleasure. 'Never before has a state taken the lead to address the growing crisis in local news,' State Director Mike Rispoli said in a statement, calling New Jersey  a model for the rest of the nation.'

No thanks. There’s been enough of this nonsense in other areas of American culture. We don’t need it in journalism. And can one still call it “journalism” when it’s funded by the state?

Technically, the more precise term is “propaganda”.