And so it begins: Law Makers ask State to subsidize local papers

Duncan Riley

Connecticut State Representatives are petitioning the State to subsidize The Bristol Press and The Herald of New Britain, two papers facing shutdown in January as we reported November 11.

The letter from seven Democrat State Representatives to the State Department of Economic and Community Development asks for unspecified "help" for both papers, arguing for the continued existence of both as they are a "central point of information and record about a city" and that both are important for public accountability. They even go as far as mentioning free press as an essential part of the Bill of Rights.

Where do you start with this news. That it's happened isn't greatly surprising in an age where Government regularly intervenes to prop up or save failed businesses. The entire newspaper industry is in trouble in the United States, so this call for State help is probably the first of many to come.

Newspapers aren't required to disseminate local information, the internet does a perfectly good job, so their argument is at best bizarre. These are also fairly small towns with populations less than 100,000 people, so the idea that each would need a daily newspaper is stranger again, and both towns are serviced by State and National newspapers.

I'll leave the last word to Mark Finkelstein, who paints a picture of newspapers in the future:

Governor: John? It's the Governor here. Say, you guys there at the Bristol Press are doing a great job. Top notch. But there is that one reporter of yours making a big stink over our proposal to increase the state income tax. He really doesn't get what we're trying to do to help our state move forward. And you know, that bill to renew your paper's subsidy is coming up next week. I'd hate to see it get bogged down in the fuss over this. Know what I mean?

Editor: Um, yes, I know, sir.

Editor: Um, yes, I know, sir.

Copy of the letter as follows:

Legislators to DECD 2008-11-25

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