Sunday, January 08, 2006

ISSUE: What is the "social responsibility" of newspaper publishers?

Todd Gitlin, one of the founders of the anti-Vietnam War Students for a Democratic Society, now a journalism professor at Columbia University, has written with a co-author a provocative op-end piece which suggests newspaper publishers have a special obligation beyond shareholder return. They write:

"To investors thinking only of comparative returns, newspapers are immaterial - simply the occasion for profiteering. The readers' interest? Irrelevant. The public interest? Be damned. No one can guarantee that better newspapers will make more money, but newspapers need investors who care about their products even if they could make more money selling pornography, soft drinks or widgets."


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