Bill de Blasio: City-Funded News Outlets Reporting on NYC Would Be More ‘Balanced’

Bill de Blasio testifies in this AP file photo.
AP Photo/Mike Groll

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he would entertain the idea of having city-funded local news outlets to give the city more favorable coverage.

The mayor said at a closed-door Q&A with reporters last week that he is open to investing city funds in a local media outlet that would cover New York City.

“I think it’s a really good question and one that intrigues me and one that I’d be open in seeing the city invest in,” de Blasio said during the Q&A with reporters laid off from hyperlocal news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist.

“Publicly sponsored, with appropriate grounds,” he added. “The BBC model, not always perfect, but in the best sense — there’s definitely a place for that.”

De Blasio claimed that a press owned by the government would provide more “fair” and “balanced” coverage than a press owned by “a bunch of rich individuals from multinational corporations.” The mayor cited the public radio station WNYC — before former Mayor Rudy Guiliani sold the station in 1994 — as an example of a successful government-funded press.

De Blasio’s comments, however, have drawn criticism from journalism experts who say that a city-owned press would undermine the news operation’s credibility and independence.

“The idea of the city directly funding local news would always raise questions about the independence of a news operation,” said Brooklyn College journalism Professor Paul Moses.

“I’m generally pretty skeptical of the idea because I think it opens the door for some issues — the credibility of the media is so important, and direct government funding could undermine that … I just don’t know if it’s a good idea,” said Jarrett Murphy, publisher of the hyperlocal investigative site CityLimits.org.

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