As the number of local newsrooms across the country continues to dwindle, members of Congress have reintroduced legislation to keep communities informed informed, maintain government accountability, and protect American democracy.
The Saving Local News Act, reintroduced in Congress by Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) would make it easier for print and online news outlets to register as 501c3s, allowing them to become non-profit entities that can focus on producing high quality journalism for their communities rather than on maximizing profits.
“America is losing its local newspapers and along with them, thousands of brave journalists who keep our communities safe and informed,” said Jon Schleuss, President of The NewsGuild-CWA. “We must fight against the loss of more local news outlets, which threatens our democracy. Supporting more nonprofit local news organizations that will put quality reporting and good jobs in journalism above profits is an important step in doing that work.
“We applaud Representative DeSaulnier’s strong commitment to strengthening local journalism and supporting union journalists,” he added. “Now, let’s get this done for the American people and our democracy.”
In 2022, weekday print newspaper circulation fell 13 percent from the previous year according to Pew Research Center. At least 2,100 newspapers across the U.S. have folded since 2004, and 1,300 communities have become “news deserts.” Five powerful corporations now own 74 percent of all daily newspapers.
The bill’s reintroduction comes at a time when journalists across the country are responding to the precarious news media environment by organizing and mobilizing. The week before the Save Local News Act was introduced, more than 200 Tribune Publishing journalists, designers, and production workers at seven newsrooms across the country walked off the job as part of a historic 24-hour strike to protest the company’s refusal to pay journalists, designers and editors a fair wage and management’s threat to take away the 401k match benefit.
Approximately 7,300 of the NewsGuild’s 26,000 members have joined since 2018 at more than 120 newly unionized publications. At Gannett, one of the largest owners of local newspapers, more than 600 journalists from 17 Gannett newsrooms have unionized with The NewsGuild-CWA since 2019.