The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would provide a much-needed boost to save local news jobs, says NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss. “Half of America’s journalism jobs have been wiped out in the past decade and the losses have accelerated during the pandemic.
“The erosion of local news puts our democracy at threat of extinction,” he said. We enthusiastically support this plan to save local news.”
The Local Journalism Sustainability Act was introduced in the Senate in July by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced a bipartisan version of the bill (H.R.3940) in the House in June.
American democracy depends on every citizen having easy access to credible, factual information they need to make informed decisions about their health, their safety, their government, and their everyday lives.
But that kind of essential information is getting harder to find as the news industry is gripped by a crisis: The business model that sustained American journalism has collapsed as advertising revenue abandoned news publications in favor of a handful of technology companies. Many cities and towns have lost local news coverage entirely. At least 2,100 newspapers have folded across the U.S. since 2004, and 1,300 communities have become “news deserts.”
But the fact that the business model for the news industry has changed doesn’t mean that the public service these news sources provide is any less important. In communities that have no newspaper, fewer people vote and the cost of their government increases. Partisanship increases with the loss of the community connection created by common sources of information.
The NewsGuild represents 16,000 American journalists, and we believe that journalists and their work are essential to a functioning democracy. We call for public policy solutions to the crisis facing the news industry that focus not just on jobs and revenue, but on supporting the critical role of a free, independent and robust press in American life. To that end, we offer an agenda for public policy that will restore and sustain American journalism, resting on three pillars.
Newspapers need new streams of revenue to support robust staffing. New funding, whether from taxpayer funding, subsidies or fees, must be channeled toward restoring or adding newsroom jobs — not inflating the bottom line of news companies.
To save local news America needs stronger regulation of media consolidation, and incentives both for the breakup of existing media chains and the purchase of news organizations by civic-minded, local owners, including non-profits, public benefit corporations, co-ops and employee-ownership models.
Press freedom fundamentally stems from the ability of journalists to gather and publish the news without interference or intimidation from individuals, government or their employers.
Tweet Your Support
"While journalists are covering the biggest story of their lives, the news industry is fighting to survive. That’s why we're fighting to #SaveTheNews to keep reporters on the streets and our communities connected."
"Furloughs, pay cuts, and layoffs are impacting tens of thousands of journalists – just when Americans need news most. Fight to #SaveTheNews."
"Journalists are at work providing life-saving information to readers, with many outlets offering COVID-19 coverage for free as a public service. It is critical for Congress to provide funding for local newsrooms and journalists. Help #SaveTheNews."
In early 2020, The NewsGuild launched the Save The News campaign
The Union represents over 16,000 media workers across the U.S.