Waldman suggests that "a big chunk" of the $1 billion the federal government spends each year on advertising, for such things as military recruitment and public health campaigns, should go to local news media, with less going to national TV, cable networks or social media. And he says the advertising budget should be increased to help blunt covid-19 and boost the census.
The ads could provide general information about social distancing, but also local information about business and recreation openings and where to get tested for the coronavirus. Health experts say widespread testing, with tracing of the contacts of people who test positive, is essential to containing the virus until the advent of a widely available vaccine or an effective treatment.
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Waldman concludes, "Like the postal subsidy that helped create the newspaper industry in the 19th century, these kinds of broad formulaic policy approaches have been the most effective ways of helping news media without corrupting the free press." He's right, and a different time calls for some different approaches while following historical precedent. Challenges create opportunities.