Fox News host Tucker Carlson didn’t expect to be so impressed by an inexperienced Arkansas teenager seeking to make newspapers “great again.”
“Why would you want to do this?” Carlson asked 19-year-old Hayden Taylor, the new owner of the Monroe County Herald, his hometown’s local newspaper.
Taylor purchased the newspaper’s assets from former publisher Katie Jacques this week, but told Carlson it was “well within” what he could afford.
“A paper, especially in eastern Arkansas… is a badge of pride for a community, and I think that it’s a worthwhile endeavor to try and keep it alive for as long as it can be,” he explained.
“There’s nobody else in your age cohort, not one person you went to high school with who says, You know, I want to buy a newspaper, or work at a newspaper or read a newspaper, for that matter,” Carlson retorted. “So what’s your plan to keep this paper alive where so many others have failed?”
We’re so used to getting our news for free we’ve forgotten what that means for journalism. According to “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver, “A study of over 200 papers found between 2003 and 2014, the number of full-time statehouse reporters declined by 35 percent,” he revealed in a report about the downsizing and elimination of local papers.
“I’m very aware that the national trend has been the downfall of newspapers, but in my particular area, there is still a demand for a paper, and as long as there’s a demand I’m willing to invest in being a supplier,” Taylor said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle getting off the ground, but now things are going very smoothly,” he added.
Carlson was stunned.
“What I’m trying to do right now is keep people on staff that do know exactly what they’re doing and I’ve kept the staff from the old [Central Delta] Argus-Sun [newspaper] and they’ve proven to be fantastic at this transition,” Taylor said. “But until I’m experienced… I’d rather not write my own editorial column.. .I’d rather cover the news.”
“Boy, you are a self-aware young man,” Carlson said in response.