Sunday, May 06, 2007

Newspaper Business

Kudos to Grand Rapids Press Publisher Danny Gaydou for being inducted into the Junior Achievement West Michigan Business Hall of Fame, a news item his own paper was sure to feature in the Sunday paper.

What's interesting in reading the article is the business perspective Gaydou has about the Press. Of course, he's the publisher and that's his job, and this is a business award. So he mentions the "money making" capacity of the new printing presses at the Walker facility. He discusses Mlive and future plans for Web enhancements, but with an emphasis on opportunities for advertisers.

Money making capacity and opportunities for advertisers. Again, no problem with business aspect of journalism. The only alternative to ad-supported media would be goverment owned media, which doesn't sit well in a democracy.

I just wish publishers and editors would talk more about that latter point. The "press" does not enjoy a special mention in the First Amendment because of their need to make money. The press is "free" because of the public's right and need to make informed decisions. Where the article does talk about citizens it refers to them as "consumers" with more options to find news. News is portrayed as a business commodity rather than a democractic service.

It's quite possible that if publishers talk more about readers as citizens and not just consumers, it will be good for both business and democracy. Maybe I'm too much of an idealist. But so were the writers of the Constitution.

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