Both the federal trade and communications commissions are studying how Uncle Sam can help the flagging news business. But while federal subsidies may be coming, state support for journalism is on the wane. The clearest example is public television, which relies on a mix of federal, local, and private funding to fulfill a mandate of news and educational programming. Federal sources have not slowed in recent years, but state support dropped sharply in 2009, according to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which puts the damage at $36 million nationwide. This year, more than half the states are expected to make further cuts, with public-affairs coverage often taking the hardest hit.
In Kansas, it’s not the news that’s being defunded but its youngest providers: journalism students. Earlier this month, the state’s Department of Education decided to stop funding high-school instruction in the subject. Schools are free to raise their own money, but that’s not a path officials would recommend. After a review of labor-market data, the state deemed journalism a dying industry unfit for public funds, which are meant for “high-demand, high-skill or high-wage” jobs.