By J.D. Tuccille

In May, the New York State government agreed to subsidize news media. With audiences declining for news reports, many Very Concerned People have called on governments to Do Something to prop up outlets failing to win enough public support to keep the lights on. That something comes in the form of money unlikely to win back an indifferent public but that stabilizes employment prospects for reporters. The result may be that journalists will cater to state officials rather than woo readers and viewers.

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Government Is No Champion of Free Expression

In December, a report from The Future of Free Speech, an independent think tank at Vanderbilt University, warned, “the global landscape for freedom of expression has faced severe challenges in 2023. Even open democracies have implemented restrictive measures.” The report documented how obsession with “hate speech,” “terrorist content,” and “disinformation” are wielded as bludgeons by officials against critics of government officials and their policies.

Those “newly elected” reformist governments in which Freedom House’s Jessica White places so much faith may not be riding to the rescue.

The problem probed by The Future of Free Speech report isn’t confined to public media, but rather features holistic attacks on expression by government officials grown intolerant of dissent. It’s worse, though, when outlets are directly controlled by the state—or even when they’re just tax-funded.

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