As in: creative accounting:
We’ve had experience in the past – the New York City subways come to mind – with businesses that began as conventional, for-profit corporations, and, for one reason or another, were later rendered unprofitable while still being viewed as essential services. It’s time to apply some creative thinking to newspapers and, for that matter, to serious journalism in other media. Then we need to convince Americans that they should pay attention to it – and pay for it.
Convince as in force people who do not want newspapers to pay for them nevertheless.
I do not know who Steven Rattner is (here are a few clues. His wife is apparently a fundraiser for the Democrats). Nor do I know what the Quadrangle Group, LLC is, of which he is managing principal, whatever that may mean (again, some clues here). But he seems like a fool. The entire essay of which the above recommendation for plunder is the concluding paragraph is about how Americans are becoming less interested in “the news”, and more interested in other things. Which is why, actually, they are less willing to pay for the news than they used to be.
It is also about why tradesmen do not need newspapers any longer to reach potential customers, which is why tradesmen are less willing to pay for newspaper readerships.
That ought to lead to a simple recommendation to potential investors in newspapers. Do not invest in newspapers. Let people tell each other the news for free, for instance by people writing and reading blogs. If some still want the news, then let them read news blogs, which gather together what various different bloggers think is the news.
But Mr Rattner seems to love newspapers. So, seeing no profit in newspapers as a business, he switches to the second-last resort of the scoundrel, a bare-faced claim that the taxpayer owes him and his friends a living. Having ceased to be attractive to mere readers, newspapers must be transformed, by some kind of political hocus pocus, into “essential services”. Like the BBC, if you please. And when all that falls on deaf ears, he will presumably go with the cosmeticised version of the same claim, about how taxpayers should pay for newspapers despite not wanting to read them anymore, because this is their patriotic duty.