Yesterday, the New York Daily News announced it is laying off 50 percent of its editorial staff. Tronc, the company that owns the Daily News, says it is "fundamentally restructuring" the newspaper, which has been around since 1919. The Daily News has reportedly lost $90 million over the last three years, so, like newspapers all over the country have had to do, it is refocusing its resources on digital media to try to survive.
Knowing this is the harsh reality of the media business, why did New York Governor Andrew Cuomo release this strange statement yesterday, shortly after the Daily News layoffs were announced? It reads in part:
These layoffs were made without notifying the State or asking for assistance… I urge Tronc to reconsider this drastic move and stand ready to work with them to avert this disaster. I understand that large corporations often only see profit and dividends as a bottom line. But in New York, we also calculate loss of an important institution, loss of jobs, and the impact on the families affected. I hope Tronc does the same and recalculates its decision. New York State stands ready to help.
Really? The "State" is "ready to help"? Cuomo seems a little too much like a circling shark here. Could he be thinking about a plan like the one New Jersey's legislature passed last month? The "Civic Information Consortium" bill established a "nonprofit" organization with the main purpose of supporting local news.
It's like the ultimate Progressive utopian dream. The idea would be hilarious if it wasn't so scary.
New Jersey funded it with $5 million in taxpayer money and the nonprofit will operate in conjunction with five different public universities in New Jersey. Did you catch that equation? A government-funded news organization to be coordinated by select public universities. It's like the ultimate Progressive utopian dream. The idea would be hilarious if it wasn't so scary.
In his statement, Governor Cuomo says he understands the value of a "robust free press." But, as their neighbors in New Jersey are about to find out, a government-funded press will certainly not be robust and definitely no longer free.
UPDATE: Here's how the discussion went on radio. Watch the video below.