May 18, 2020 – The NewsGuild-CWA launched a new advocacy campaign, Save The News, on Monday, to make the case that local newsrooms must be included in future federal recovery efforts to support essential industries. Check out a dedicated website here and volunteer to get involved.
Although journalists are covering the biggest story of their lives, the news industry is fighting for survival. Local news outlets have been damaged for years by tech giants that have siphoned away advertising revenue and by private equity owners that have hollowed out the industry with extreme cost-cutting measures.
Since 2004, the U.S. has lost approximately 1,800 newspapers, many of them small papers outside of major cities. Each of these losses hurts average Americans deeply, taking away the important functions local news plays in their lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the devastation. Advertising revenue has dried up as businesses shuttered to combat the virus. This has led to layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts for tens of thousands of journalists. At the same time, readers are turning to local news outlets in record numbers in search of accurate, up-to-the-minute information about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their communities. Those journalists who remain have been hard at work providing life-saving public health information to readers, with many outlets offering their COVID-19 coverage for free as a public service despite financial strains.
The Save The News campaign calls for recovery measures that will keep reporters on the streets, ad representatives working the phones, digital production staff posting online, pressmen churning out papers, and drivers delivering them to readers’ doors.
The campaign is demanding that Congress support local news in three ways:
- Direct grants to workers;
- Inclusion in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which many local news outlets are ineligible for because they are owned by larger news companies, and
- Direct federal spending on community outreach advertising to local newspapers to replace lost revenue.
More details on these policy approaches are available at SaveTheNews.org.
“I am humbled to see so many members of our industry unite under one cause: protecting local journalism,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss. “Americans need access to information about their local communities more than ever, and yet layoffs and furloughs are only increasing as this pandemic continues. Congress needs to act to save the news before it’s too late.”
With momentum growing behind efforts to tackle this challenge on Capitol Hill, The NewsGuild is ready to take action to Save The News for communities across the country.
But we need your help! Volunteer here.