Populism. And local newspapers.

Two very interesting posts – one via Chris Dillow, and one directly from his site. Firstly, Chris signposts this:

“….perhaps it’s “populist” to think political elites always end up in bed with economic elites, but it seems, as a matter of fact, they often do. My opinion is that a certain “populist” enthusiasm for democracy, in the absence of strong legal and cultural constraints on government action, almost inevitably delivers a great deal of regulatory capture–that is, tucks political elites snugly in bed with corporate elites. Isn’t that a cynical vision? Moreover, when the incentives of insufficiently-limited democracies lead to this kind of result, supra-national technocratic institutions can in fact act as a salutary check on governments precisely because they are undemocratic.”

There we have it again: “…insufficiently-limited democracies.” What does this mean? Does it mean the populist mode of democracy as opposed to the model with strong political parties, shortish manifestos and un-mandated politicians? Surely the latter option is really the unlimited democracy?

Secondly, Chris has some evidence – nothing conclusive mind….

Reprising the question of a bail-out for journalism, here’s Martin Bright’s original New Deal of the Mind article from the New Statesman – it’s an idea that seems to be going places.

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Councils v local newspapers?

A few weeks ago, Roy Greenslade picked up on a growing opposition to Council-run free newspapers.

As he notes, the opposition comes both from smaller political parties locally, and from commercial rivals that are being edged out – as they see it.

Elsewhere, we are seeing growing demands for a journalistic ‘bail-out’ – and not just from bug-eyed Marxist fanatics either. Certainly, a lot of the clearly drawn ethical lines that have protected the near-monopolies of some local newspapers are being challenged from many quarters.

On the one hand, a strong local democracy requires a powerful independent journalistic voice, and if the Council does anything to damage this ecology, then it would be difficult to defend.

However, I think that there is an opportunity here. The National Union of Journalists are firmly of the view that some local newspapers are cutting back on journalists – not because they can’t afford them, but because their current business model allows them to make sufficient advertising revenues without much investment in original content. Continue reading

Local government information – squeezing out local newspapers?

This is interesting:

“Ed Balls has called on councils not to undermine local media outlets by trying to compete for readers and advertising revenue with their own publications and websites.”

I wonder if Mr Balls has any plans to ask the local newspaper groups to pay journalists to cover local news with a bit of enthusiasm, accuracy or fairness.  

Perhaps the lazy reporter who covered the speech couldn’t be botherered to write that bit up? 😉