Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Help poor, or yourself; a media no-brainer

The Denver Post would rather provide 100 million people with broadband access than 32 million Americans with health care.

I guess you can't fault the Post for editorially holding such a puzzling dichotomy of opinion, but the newspaper is a business, and business is business.

Logically, what's at stake, is the newspaper's self-interest. Supporting the federal government's expansion of broadband could benefit the newspaper's online business at little cost, while the expansion of health care to the uninsured might cost it some big money.

At least that's the impression the Post's Sunday and Monday lead editorials could give a reader.

Not surprisingly, Monday's editorial following historic passage of health-care reform denounced the action as a "single-minded quest to notch a political victory" for Democrats. The Post has opposed the health-care reform effort in Congress for most of the last six months while basically echoing facetious Republican arguments against it. It didn't much matter to the newspaper that 32 million more uninsured Americans would get health care they deserve as much as richer folks in the nation.

Yet the newspaper's main Sunday editorial hailed a national expansion of Internet access proposed by the Federal Communications Commission. It, too, will bear a cost to taxpayers including the Post. But the newspaper could conceivably benefit from such a huge market expansion because the FCC proposal -- just as health care reform does for insurance companies -- would increase exponentially the newspaper industry's potential to reach new customers, mostly those with money.

There you have it. Help the poor, or help yourself. It's a choice most businesses consider a no-brainer.

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