In remarks last week to a group of reporters recently laid off by New York City news websites DNAinfo New York and Gothamist, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would be open to funding a city-owned media outlet to cover local news.
What did de Blasio say?
Both websites were recently shut down, a decision de Blasio said was “wrong, and was a very troublesome indicator of some things happening in our society and in our media.”
“The notion of ever-greater corporate concentration of the media scares me to death,” de Blasio said, adding that he thinks media in the future will have “a different model, with more emphasis on nonprofit options and alternatives.”
Asked about a proposal by a city councilmember that the city should fund local journalism, the mayor said he was “intrigued” by the idea.
He said WNYC, a radio station once owned by the city of New York, was “a great pillar of local journalism.”
“I think it’s a really good question, and one that intrigues me and one that I’d be open to actually seeing the city invest in,” de Blasio said. “Publicly sponsored, with appropriate grounds. The BBC model, not always a perfect example, but in the best sense — there’s definitely a place for that.”
Asked if there was a place for such an endeavor in the city’s budget, he said it is not currently “part of our thinking” but would be a “worthy discussion.”
de Blasio said he trusts “the public sector to create fair and responsive media” more than he trusts “a bunch of rich individuals from multinational corporations” to do so.
What do others say?
Some expressed concern over the mayor’s comments.
“The idea of the city directly funding local news would always raise questions about the independence of a news operation,” Brooklyn College journalism Professor Paul Moses told the New York Post.
Jarrett Murphy, publisher of CityLimits.org, told the Post, “I’m generally pretty skeptical of the idea because I think it opens the door for some issues — the credibility of the media is so important, and direct government funding could undermine that ... I just don’t know if it’s a good idea.”
(H/T New York Post)