NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- During last year's holiday season, I used this space to appeal to readers to consider making year-end charitable contributions to nonprofit journalism outlets, like Pro Publica and the Center For Investigative Reporting.
I'd like to renew the suggestion again this year and point out that if the current budget negotiations in Washington, D.C. result in a limit on charitable deductions, this could be your last chance to give freely to these organizations and fully write it off on your taxes.
Why is this something that I feel strongly about? Simply put: it is critical that we as a democratic society increase the amount of factual, understandable and useful information that is available to our citizens to help them make better decisions to improve their lives. That means that we need journalists that are free and motivated to challenge those who wield the most power in our society, get answers to the tough questions and reveal the important facts to our citizens in a clear and compelling way.
We have many great journalists doing outstanding work in this country in both the for-profit and nonprofit spheres, but unfortunately, we do not have enough. This is a crucial problem that underlies the many difficult issues currently facing us, and the widespread doubt that exists now about whether we have the wherewithal to deal with our problems.
Let's take the recent, heartbreaking and horrific massacre in Newtown, Conn. as an example. Everyone knows that gun violence and mass shootings are occurring in America at a pace that reflects a deep, social problem. I don't think anyone disagreed with President Obama when he spoke in Newtown and said: "We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change."
However, when you get into a discussion of how we have to change, that's where the bitter disputes begin. Some people are calling for gun control. Others say we need more guns. And then there's discussion of the influence of mass media, U.S. militarism, violence in entertainment and so on. Maybe there actually is no political solution to this issue and the carnage will just continue no matter what steps are taken.