Senate Panel to Examine Newspapers’ Financial Woes

There’s been much talk, of late—some serious, some not-so-serious—of government intervention in the financial crisis facing newspapers.

Well, next week, the Boston Globe reports, the money/mouth dynamic might just shift a bit: John Kerry will hold Senate hearings on the financial plight of newspapers. The Massachusetts senator will lead the hearings, officially, in his capacity as chair of the body’s Commerce subcommittee…but also in his capacity as a denizen of a city whose principal newspaper is in real danger of becoming a casualty of newspapers’ economic woes.

“The increase in media conglomerates has resulted in an increase in agenda-driven reporting,” Kerry wrote in a letter to the Globe’s labor union leaders on Friday, “and over time, if those of us who value a diversity of opinion and ideas, and are unafraid to be confronted with pointed commentary and analysis, do not act, it is a situation which will only get worse.”

It’s unclear how much the hearings will have to do with union negotiations at the Globe itself—“his only goal is to help find a fair solution that keeps the Globe up and running,” Kerry spokeswoman Brigid O’Rourke wrote of the senator’s intentions in an e-mail to the Globe—and how much they’ll have to do with plight of newspapers countrywide. Kerry, for his part, wrote in his letter that his goal would be to ensure that the “vital public service newspapers provide does not disappear.”

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.