Very apropos the question regarding journalistic independence and state involvement, Reporters without Borders just published their 2009 Press Freedom Index.
The low-public support United States is ranked 20th (with the UK and Luxembourg). The high-support Nordic countries are ranked a shared 1st (together with Ireland).
To take two examples, annual public support for journalism amounts to roughly $1.35 per capita in the U.S., versus about $200 per capita in my native Denmark. (does someone have figures from Ireland? I don’t)
Obviously, this does not imply causation, but at the very least it seriously challenges the idea that substantial public support for journalism necessarily undermines press freedom.