David “The Wire” Simon explains in a comment on his blog responding to the question, “ I’m curious to hear your thoughts regarding the Koch’s play for the Tribune company.”
First, the locally-owned newspapers went to the publicly-traded newspaper chains, which promised economies of scale and great wealth to the owning families at the point of sale, as well as the preservation of editorial independence. It was a lie.
Then the chains went to Wall Street, where analysts who only measure the health and purpose of any endeavor in terms of short-term, quarterly profits, demanded greater mediocrity long before the internet arrived to pressure the industry. The analysts promised greater profits than ever before. In the end, they lied and diminished the product just in time for digitization.
Then the newspapers went to the internet hat in hand, afraid to charge for their weakened, eviscerated product and hoping against hope that giving the news report away for free would somehow encourage a revenue stream. The mavens of new media lied.
And now, those end-game capitalists who will not be content until nothing — no societal need, no communal ambition, no other American ideal save for maximized profit — is left standing. They , will buy up the gutted newspaper carcasses, so that they can lie on a scale that makes all the previous dishonesty a trifle. They will regard what remains of the news report merely as a platform to advance themselves and their capital, just as they regard the political system as such.
Once and forever, capitalism is a worthy tool and a necessary one for creating mass wealth, but as to the distribution and uses of that wealth within a society? No, capitalism is not a metric for anything but profit itself. This is the lie at the core of free-market ideology and libertarianism. And free markets are never the whole or complete answer when addressing any societal goal, compact or responsibility. It’s easy to make money when all you give a fuck about is making money, to invoke Orson Welles. And the Koch brothers and others of their kind wish to build a society that does little but transfer wealth to a select few while obliterating any other ambition for American society. If newspapers can help them secure that future, so be it.
But journalism in those cities where they own the daily newspaper and its digitized versions will be crippled until alternative news sources are developed by independent, professional journalists.
What do you call it when capital has purchased not only government, but all plausible means to criticize governance? A prelude to fascism.