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Support the Push for Responsible News

Personally, I think the relative lack of gun violence in other countries similar to ours shows that more regulation of firearms -- especially the kind that are solely intended for killing people quickly in large numbers -- could be a productive step that we could take in the near-term to address the issue. But what do I know?

Good journalism could help us better understand the problem and the viable solutions to it, and the same can be said about any of the problems we're dealing with: excessive public debt, wage stagnation, environmental destruction, obesity, terrorism . . . I could go on, but let's not prolong the agony.

We do hear a lot about all these issues, but I don't see enough quality, investigative reporting that is accessible to the public, and I don't think the handful of large conglomerates that control our media -- News Corp. (NWSA - Get Report), Disney (DIS), CBS (CBS), Viacom (VIAB), Time Warner (TWX) and Comcast (CMCSA) -- are good candidates for picking up the slack.

For one, investments in journalism simply don't yield much in the way of financial rewards, and the rise of the Internet has exacerbated this as information becomes more freely available and traditional forms of advertising become less effective. In a recent regulatory filing, News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal, revealed steep losses in its publishing division and it admitted that "newspaper advertising and circulation revenues have been declining, reflecting general trends in the newspaper industry."

The New York Times, another source of great reporting in the U.S., sacked its former CEO Janet Robinson last December, less than a year after she oversaw the launch of the company's new digital subscription model -- it's latest gambit to forge a new business model for the digital age. In October, the publisher's stock tumbled after it reported its ad revenue declined by 9% in its third-quarter, continuing a longstanding trend that it has to reverse if the company's going to endure.

Is the profession dying? I hope not, but the rise of nonprofit, independent outlets throughout the country is an attempt to fill the void. They're doing great work, and they deserve more support.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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