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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13276/lets-make-journalism-fair-and-balanced-just-like-the-universities/

Let’s Make Journalism Fair and Balanced — Just Like the Universities!

July 14, 2010 by

A bizarre op-ed by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger in today’s WSJ calls for a government bailout — no, even worse, ongoing government subsidies — for the dying journalism industry. In response to the obvious problem that this would make the industry even more dependent on, and friendly to, the state than it already is, Bollinger offers the universities as a counter-example:

There are examples of other institutions in the U.S. where state support does not translate into official control. The most compelling are our public universities and our federal programs for dispensing billions of dollars annually for research. Those of us in public and private research universities care every bit as much about academic freedom as journalists care about a free press.

Yet — through a carefully designed system with peer review of grant-making, a strong culture of independence, and the protections afforded by the First Amendment—there have been strikingly few instances of government abuse. Indeed, the most problematic funding issues in academic research come from alliances with the corporate sector.

Bollinger offers no argument or evidence to support this breathtakingly naive view of university “independence.” He is apparently blissfully ignorant of the vast body of evidence, going back many decades, showing precisely the opposite, namely that college and university faculty are much more statist than than the average citizen. I summarize some of this evidence in a recent Mises.org piece; the most recent detailed empirical work has been done by George Mason University professor Dan Klein and a series of coauthors. In short, the evidence confirms exactly what one would expect, namely that the de facto nationalization of the higher-education sector in the US (and elsewhere) has produced generations of faculty who see their main task as promoting “civic virtue,” i.e., support for an ever-larger and more powerful central state. The same fate no doubt awaits Bollinger’s proposed new state-media enterprise.

Update: See also Roger Pilon.

{ 5 comments }

Jardinero1 July 14, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Most persons, especially within higher education, are clueless as to how dependent the higher education system is on government largesse. Over at Voloch Conspiracy I once quipped that tax payers should not subsidize the legal profession with state law schools or The Guaranteed Student Loan program. Another commenter replied that state law schools and federal student loans are not subsidies… what?

Bruce Koerber July 14, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Obsolete Educational Institutions Are Poor Examples For Journalistic Excellence.

So if the colleges and universities are just “promoting “civic virtue,” i.e., support for an ever-larger and more powerful central state” we have to wonder about the value of the degrees that they offer. What is the value of a Bachelors degree, a Masters degree, or a Ph.D. from a ‘institute of higher learning’ that actually just indoctrinates its students in Statism?

The value of education must not, therefore, be measured by the cost of acquiring it nor can it be measured by the name of the institution on the piece of paper indicating completion of its program.

The value of education must have something to do with releasing entrepreneurial spirit! It is this criterion that will demonstrate the value and the worth of an education from whatever its source.

Armed with a invigorated entrepreneurial spirit, those who received a valuable education will carry forward an ever-advancing civilization!

Econ Student July 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Even if we accept his argument and university example as valid, we can mention other examples in which government has done a great deal of harm to an industry after intervention. What an idiot. His article truly does belong on the WSJ.

HL July 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm

The sad thing is that this will come to pass.

Chuck Moe July 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

“Yet — through a carefully designed system with peer review of grant-making, a strong culture of independence, and the protections afforded by the First Amendment—there have been strikingly few instances of government abuse.”

As someone who sees millions of dollars of grant money distributed by the Feds to universities I can say with certainty that the “grant-making” is one of the most political processes there are. Universities make many of their grant proposals based on what science they think they can get funding for rather than what they feel they sould study.

What these research facilities care most about is funding period. Independence….please.

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