Relief bill could save thousands of local news jobs

Updated Dec. 28, 2020 – After six days of uncertainty, President Donald J. Trump signed the COVID relief bill on Dec. 27, marking an important victory for journalists, readers, the news industry generally, and millions of others.

The relief bill in front of Congress includes a NewsGuild-supported provision that will expand Paycheck Protection Program loans to local newsrooms across the country.

Continue reading “Relief bill could save thousands of local news jobs”

There’s no shortage of news in Springfield, Ill., but they are running low on reporters.

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, Sept. 4, 2020 – The daily newspaper in this capital city of 115,000 is one of the go-to places for political coverage in a state where consecutive governors went to federal prison, the state’s finances are precarious and the longtime speaker of the Illinois House may be in the crosshairs of a federal investigation. Continue reading “There’s no shortage of news in Springfield, Ill., but they are running low on reporters.”

Watchdogs on furlough: A thwarted secret deal, an intensely local story

By Dean Olsen

Aug. 6, 2020 – Readers called and emailed the Florida Times-Union over the past year with appreciation for the newspaper’s commitment to uncovering apparent secret deals behind the now-canceled attempt to sell the city of Jacksonville’s municipally-owned utility to a private entity. Continue reading “Watchdogs on furlough: A thwarted secret deal, an intensely local story”

NewsGuild principles on COVID-19 workplace reopenings  

May 20, 2020 – The NewsGuild-CWA has long fought to ensure that journalists and other news employees can work safely, in healthy workplaces free from avoidable hazards. That fight takes on increasing urgency as the nation moves to ‘reopen’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Continue reading “NewsGuild principles on COVID-19 workplace reopenings  “

Massive cuts impact journalism in the communities they serve

By Randy Furst (Illustration by Steve Sack)

May 4, 2020 – On April 3 and 10, 28 union reporters and four management editors were permanently laid off at the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Rachel Dissell, whose break-through investigative journalism had a big effect on Ohio and Cleveland, was one of the reporters laid off. Continue reading “Massive cuts impact journalism in the communities they serve”

More members of Congress support a news stimulus

April 16, 2020 – Today Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio unveiled a proposal to support local media, calling for increased advertising spending by the federal government related to public health, tax credits to encourage newsroom hiring, an amendment to the tax code to allow news publications to become tax-exempt, and deferred-interest loans to newspapers, radio and TV stations. 

“It’s a promising start and we look forward to working with members of Congress to keep journalists and media workers on the job right now while also not lining the pockets of hedge funds,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss.  “Newsrooms across the country are cutting pay and laying off workers in the middle of a pandemic when Americans need news coverage most.”

The proposal had 12 Democratic signers, including Representatives Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Jared Huffman of California, Elaine Luria of Virginia and D.C.’s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. 

It follows news early Thursday that Republican Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan is urging congressional leaders to include the news industry in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.

And last week 19 senators called on Senate leaders to include funding for local journalism in any future stimulus package. “Local news is in a state of crisis that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” they wrote. “Reliable local news and information has been critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet it has become more scarce. Aid provisions “should be tailored to benefit aid recipients who make a long-term commitment to high quality local news,” the senators wrote.

Two weeks ago The NewsGuild announced a proposal for a news industry stimulus that would accomplish two things: save current jobs and grow community-focused journalism. 

Since the NewsGuild unveiled its proposal, dozens of companies have announced layoffs and furloughs. The New York Times reported that 28,000 workers have been laid off, furloughed or had their pay reduced since the arrival of the coronavirus. 

“At this moment, we must save the news jobs that communities depend on for coronavirus coverage,” Schleuss said. “As the nation shelters indoors Americans need to know which hospitals are at capacity, what local health officials are saying and how many of their neighbors have died from the pandemic.”

The Guild is working with Rep. Ryan’s office and other legislators to make sure any funding would go to benefit workers—not hedge funds and private equity groups that have pillaged the industry and endangered our communities prior to this pandemic. 

Under the NewsGuild proposal, public support for news-gathering operations would be required to remain independent from partisan influence and would be prohibited from using public money for executive bonuses, dividends or golden parachutes.

Sign the Guild’s petition to include live-saving news in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.

The NewsGuild represents more than 24,000 journalists and other communications professionals at publications and digital sites across the U.S. and Canada. The NewsGuild is a sector of the Communications Workers of America.

Continue reading “More members of Congress support a news stimulus”

Support for news industry stimulus gains momentum

Updated Aug. 12, 2020 – In the wake of the coronavirus, major portions of the news industry are threatened with extinction as ad revenue craters. Layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts are impinging on our ability to provide the life-saving news our readers desperately want: Where can I get tested? What’s happening at the hospital in my community? What is the government doing to protect me? Continue reading “Support for news industry stimulus gains momentum”

NewsGuild to congressional leaders: News coverage must be a priority in the next stimulus package

For Immediate Release: April 9, 2020
Contact: Sally Davidow | sdavidow@cwa-union.org | 202-368-3324

‘More Americans will die’ if they cannot access critical information

The NewsGuild-CWA told congressional leaders that public funding to continue news coverage must be a priority in the next stimulus package, writing on Thursday, “More Americans will die” if they cannot access the critical information news outlets provide.

“As the nation shelters indoors, Americans are turning to local, regional and national news in record numbers for life-saving information,” NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Many publications have lowered digital paywalls to provide COVID-19 coverage for free,” Schleuss wrote. “At the same time, the news industry is seeing plummeting ad revenue created by business closures.

“At this moment when Americans need reliable, community-focused coverage, we risk losing it all,” he warned.

Read the full letter here.

The loss of revenue is already devastating local news coverage. News outlets across the country have cut staff significantly and furloughed employees. Some have reduced publication and distribution, or stopped publishing altogether. In New Orleans, which is facing one of the most dire outbreaks of COVID-19 in the nation, the local paper has seen online readership quadruple, even as a decline in revenue led to the furlough of 10 percent of the staff.

“This is the worst possible time to eliminate or weaken crucial sources of local information, given the rapid spread of the virus, the frequently changing directives from governments and the urgent need to update information about sources of assistance,” Schleuss said. 

Funding recipients must remain independent of partisan influence, he said, but, he added, “Failing to protect our local news literally puts lives at risk.” 

To protect the news industry’s ability to continue serving the public, the NewsGuild said Congress should adopt measures that include:

  • A publicly financed fund to support newsrooms and media workers to prevent layoffs furloughs and pay cuts;
  • Requirements that news outlets receiving aid remain independent from partisan influence, demonstrate a need for the assistance, report on how funds have been spent and be prohibited from engaging in mergers and acquisitions resulting in job losses, leveraged buyouts and anti-union activity, and from using funds for executive bonuses, stock buybacks or dividends;
  • A prohibition on job cuts by participating companies;
  • Requirements that recipient companies provide ongoing information on staff diversity;
  • Ensuring that one-quarter of seats on boards of directors be held by non-management employees at recipient publications;
  • A separate mechanism to establish a Small Business Administration program of no-interest loans for the creation of news start-ups, including nonprofits and employee-owned co-ops;
  • Tax deductibility for the cost of subscriptions to any news product;
  • Incentives for local ownership to encourage chains to sell to local owners and community interests;
  • A nationwide federal advertising program to promote public health, participation in the federal census and other topics of national interest.

“Communities across the country are in dire need of assistance to preserve access to life-saving news. By enacting the support package described above, you can protect that access and keep communities connected during this crisis,” Schleuss wrote.

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The NewsGuild-CWA represents more than 24,000 journalists and other media workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The Guild is a sector of the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America.

 

NewsGuild praises senators’ call for funding for local journalism

April 8, 2020 – The NewsGuild-CWA is pleased that 19 senators are asking Senate leaders to include funding to support local journalism and media in any future stimulus package.

“This is an important step in protecting life-saving news operations from devastation and we will work to win broad, bipartisan support for such a package,” said Jon Schleuss, president of The NewsGuild. Continue reading “NewsGuild praises senators’ call for funding for local journalism”