A news tax on fast food?

I recently wrote about the issue of subsidies for public-interest news gathering for TReehouse. Though I realize there is little chance such subsidies will be realized given the current political climate, I support the idea as a way to help ensure public-interest journalism remains viable.

AltDaily, an alternative news website in Hampton Roads, Va., has a somewhat related discussion going at its Facebook page about whether folks might support a fast food tax to fund investigative reporting at The Virginian-Pilot.

The discussion, as I write this, shows that some folks do not understand that news gathering organizations, including corporate ones, have historically been subsidized by various forms of government. Some remain so today, both directly and indirectly.

My feeling continues to be that this has not demonstrably been shown to cause an ethical conflict that is in any way different than those conflicts facing news organizations covering corporate interests with which they engage in business relationships. Applying logic and caution might contain concerns about slanted or tainted coverage with subsidies of various types or sizes in place.

The potential for conflict, of course, is great. Potential conflict and realized conflict are two distinct matters. They should be treated as such.

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