The situation facing journalists across the country is dire, but it’s not too late to reverse this trend. In a future COVID-19 recovery package, we call on Congress to take the lead to save the news through one of the following approaches:
Direct grants to workers
Congress should appropriate funding to be used exclusively to subsidize the incomes of employees at local print and online news outlets.
These grants to individual workers should be conditional—requiring recipients to use them as an income supplement in the event of wage/salary cuts to fund the continued employment of news workers.
Any such grants should be subject to strict oversight. Recipients should have to demonstrate financial need and report on how they used the funding at a future point.
They should also be barred for five years from using the money for golden parachutes or engaging in mergers and acquisitions or leveraged buyouts that result in job losses or pay reductions.
Expanding access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Despite an obvious connection to, and role in, their local communities, many local news outlets are not eligible to apply for PPP loans due to their ownership structure as part of larger news companies.
Congress should expand access to the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Paycheck Protection Program for local news outlets, waiving restrictions that currently prohibit these outlets from accessing the program.
Direct federal spending on community outreach advertising to local newspapers to replace lost revenue
Congress and the Administration should consider using federal advertising budgets to make up for the lost revenue that has ravaged local news outlets.
Any federal advertising campaigns or community outreach efforts should shift their spending toward local news outlets.
They should also create an incentive for other recovery funds provided to local businesses to be spent on advertising with local news outlets.
For more details on our other policy proposals to help save the news, visit our main site.