Better Late Than Never


Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, weighed in Thursday on the closing of the Rocky Mountain News, expressing his sorrow for the paper in particular and the industry in general.

Newspaper executives and broadcasters could be forgiven for seeing it as a little late to the party.

“Sadly, this won’t be the last in this unfortunate trend in the newspaper business which has already seen D.C. bureaus shut, foreign desks close, and now entire newspapers and newspaper chains disappear. It’s a trend that should alarm all of us.”

He sounded for all the world like John Sturm, presdident of the Newspaper Association of America, back when he was arguing that loosening the newspaper-broadcast ownership ban was the least Congress could do, literally, to help out his struggling industry (Sturm wanted the ban lifted entirely).

“Thomas Jefferson recognized the importance of newspapers to our democracy when he said he’d prefer newspapers over government if forced to choose,” said Kerry, sounding even more like a newspaper industry lobbyist. “It’s no coincidence that many of the great investigative pieces of journalism that led to progress on everything from workplace safety to civil rights began not in the national newsrooms but in local and regional newspapers from Boston to Chicago to Alabama.”

It was the smaller newspapers that Sturm argued could be most in need of the boost of co-ownership and the sharing of resources.

“As our methods for disseminating news continue to rapidly change,” continued Kerry. “I will make it a priority to take a hard and close look at the disturbing trend that is the disappearance of journalism.”

Hmmmmmm? Is this the same Kerry who so strongly opposed the FCC’s modification of the rules, who joined with then Senator Barack Obama to oppose them, then co-sponsored a bill to nullify it after the FCC approved the change?

Some Democrats, allies of Kerry, even scoffed at FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s suggestion that he was trying to help those struggling newspapers, saying derisively that it wasn’t the Federal Newspaper Commission.