Vanderbilt Law Review


John J. Flynn

First Page



The American newspaper industry, often called "The Fourth Estate," apparently believes it has fallen on hard times. The aristocrats of the Fourth Estate, the daily newspapers, came to the Ninetieth Congress seeking a boon: relaxation of the rigors of antitrust policy as applied to mergers and joint agency operations by otherwise competing newspapers. A bill has been introduced, S. 1312, which is sponsored by fifteen Senators of diverse political and economic views, all save one having one thing in common-the presence of newspaper joint agency operations in their home states.' The very fact that Senators of such conflicting viewpoints could be brought together on an issue surely indicates that America's Fourth Estate has political power far in excess of that normally associated with aristocracies in a democracy. Consequently, the political facts of life with regard to the power of newspaper publishers over the political fortunes of their communities suggest that S. 1312 is a bill that cannot be treated as special interest legislation which one might expect to see shunted aside in the committee process after a pro forma performance for the benefit of constituents. Happily, the Fourth Estate includes enough independent and responsible publishers who are concerned with the broad responsibilities of the press and the deeper implications of a free press so that there has been ample debate upon the pros and cons of S. 1312.