This cannot be good. Elsevier (NL) reports that the government is going to pay the salaries of 60 journalists and editors working for Dutch dead-tree media.
Among those receiving the ‘free’ journalists are the Persgroep (Trouw, Volkskrant, Parool and Algemeen Dagblad), who will get 14 subsidized spots, and de Telegraaf, good for nine state-dependent journalists. Opinion mags HP/De Tijd, Vrij Nederland and Weekblad de Groene each get one subsidized editor spot. All in all this new subsidy scheme runs the entire spectrum of big printed MSM. Notable exceptions are Elsevier magazine and the daily NRC.
The plan was concocted by (now ex-) minister Plasterk (PvdA), who wanted to help out the ailing printed press sector in these hard times of financial crisis and competition from the internet. What is left unsaid, of course, is that much of the dead-tree MSM (as is the MSM in general) are all preaching from the same sermon book, singing the praises of multiculturalism and admonishing their readers for not being worried enough about AGW. This has greatly contributed to a dwindling readership, as citizens turn more and more to the internet for truly independent news.
And so, in a bid to salvage what is left, our national printed MSM is being nationalised by stealth. Because let’s be honest: it would be naive to think that the money comes with no strings attached. None of those subsidized journos is going to write anything that may jeopardize their taxpayer funded job, are they?
One has to wonder, though, if getting more of the same, tax-funded or not, is going to do anything for a sector that apparently is unable to earn its own keep. Elsevier doesn’t think so. Noting that they have resisted this ridiculous plan from the start they go on to note:
This weekly will under no circumstances become state media, and does not want in any way justify suspicions that the editorial staff is treating government and public authorities with velvet gloves [Dutch for kid gloves – KV]. Besides: Elsevier honours the principle that healthy companies should be able to earn their own keep. Plus: This subsidy leads to distorion of competition.
So… Let’s hear it for Elsevier (and NRC). But also let us not forget that as of today our printed media has lost its independence (such as it was) and have now become de facto propaganda outlets of our government. That cannot be good at all