Journalists provide lifesaving info during the COVID-19 pandemic
Local journalists play a critical role in keeping their communities informed about which hospitals are at capacity, the latest guidance from public health officials and state and local authorities, and other impacts the virus is having in their area.
Local journalists are risking their lives on a daily basis to keep Americans informed about the pandemic, often without sufficient personal protective equipment.
Many outlets are even making their COVID-19 coverage free for all readers as a public service. The surge in online readership that local news sites have seen in recent weeks makes it clear the demand for quality journalism is there, with Americans anxiously turning to them to learn about the latest COVID-19-related news in their areas.
Journalism creates critically-important jobs and contributes to local economies
Across all 50 states, local news outlets employ tens of thousands of Americans in indispensable jobs that serve the community, contribute to the local economy, and cannot be outsourced or meaningfully replaced by non-local alternatives.
Roughly 36,000 journalists had lost their jobs, faced furloughs, or had their hours cut due to the crisis as of early May, and that number continues to grow. Papers from Fargo, ND to Phoenix, AZ to Charlotte, NC to Denver, CO have all closed, limited distribution, or had staff cuts since the crisis started.
Journalists act as a government watchdog
Local news helps hold local governments and businesses accountable to their communities.
When a region loses local news outlets, the risk of government corruption increases and local governments get more careless with borrowing and spending.
The loss of local news contributes to increased partisanship and is tied to lower engagement with politics in general from both voters and candidates. Fewer people question local leadership, fewer people run for office to challenge incumbents, and fewer voters are energized to get out and vote with fewer options to choose from.
Local news provides essential community information
local journalists and newspapers serve as a hub of information on local culture, politics, entertainment, sports, the arts, and many other issues that touch Americans’ daily lives.
journalists keep their communities updated on everything from the high school football team, to the outcome of the latest school board meeting, to the details of town hall events and debates hosted by candidates for elected office.
Local journalism serves as “connective tissue” keeping us informed about and engaged with our local communities—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when millions are under stay-at-home orders.