4.2 Reading Learning Activity – Pickard: The Great Evasion

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4.2 Markets and Regulation

Today’s main reading from Victor Pickard is short but also challenging. I would suggest watching the “bonus video” from crash course economics before reading – it will help you understand the terms. Pickard’s main concern is for the future of journalism. In recent years, I think there has been a lot of confusion about what journalism is and suspicions about fairness and the issue of “bias” in journalism (check out this page (Links to an external site.) for great info on these questions). While there are some important things to discuss that regard, it is important to remember how crucial free and independent jourrnalism is for a democratic society. Journalism is one of the main institutions that holds authorities in society accountable. It takes time, expertise, and resources to do these investigations, and there is a lot of demand for this work.

Unfortunately, journalism has always required subsidies (from advertising, private philanthropy, and public funds) to stay afloat, since consumers have never been willing to pay the full price of journalistic work. Pickard’s article uses economic principles to explain why even though consumers want journalism, news organizations can’t demand the full cost for their products. He shows how the switch to digital has made all of these problems much, much worse. Pickard concludes that we need to change the way we think about journalism and media as a business, to make sure these institutions can survive to keep our democracy strong.

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