Every community has a story | SAVE THE NEWS

American democracy depends on every citizen having easy access to credible, factual information they need to make informed decisions about their health, their safety, their government, and their everyday lives. 

But that kind of essential information is getting harder to find as the news industry is gripped by a crisis: The business model that sustained American journalism has collapsed as advertising revenue abandoned news publications in favor of a handful of technology companies. Many cities and towns have lost local news coverage entirely. At least 2,100 newspapers have folded across the U.S. since 2004, and 1,300 communities have become “news deserts.” 

But the fact that the business model for the news industry has changed doesn’t mean that the public service these news sources provide is any less important. In communities that have no newspaper, fewer people vote and the cost of their government increases. Partisanship increases with the loss of the community connection created by common sources of information.

The NewsGuild represents 16,000 American journalists, and we believe that journalists and their work are essential to a functioning democracy. We call for public policy solutions to the crisis facing the news industry that  focus not just on jobs and revenue, but on supporting the critical role of a free, independent and robust press in American life. To that end, we offer an agenda for public policy that will restore and sustain American journalism, resting on three pillars. 

More journalism jobs

Newspapers need new streams of revenue to support robust staffing. New funding, whether from taxpayer funding, subsidies or fees, must be channeled toward restoring or adding newsroom jobs — not inflating the bottom line of news companies.

More local

To save local news America needs stronger regulation of media consolidation, and incentives both for the breakup of existing media chains and the purchase of news organizations by civic-minded, local owners, including non-profits, public benefit corporations, co-ops and employee-ownership models.

More press freedom

Press freedom fundamentally stems from the ability of journalists to gather and publish the news without interference or intimidation from individuals, government or their employers. 

Tweet Your Support

"While journalists are covering the biggest story of their lives, the news industry is fighting to survive. That’s why we're fighting to #SaveTheNews to keep reporters on the streets and our communities connected."

"Furloughs, pay cuts, and layoffs are impacting tens of thousands of journalists – just when Americans need news most. Fight to #SaveTheNews."

"Journalists are at work providing life-saving information to readers, with many outlets offering COVID-19 coverage for free as a public service. It is critical for Congress to provide funding for local newsrooms and journalists. Help #SaveTheNews."

Alden’s approach to newspapers is to dramatically expand profit margins through cost-cutting, combining services, outsourcing and selling off real estate. Its newspaper company, closely held MediaNews Group, which publishes some 70 daily papers including the Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News, had a profit margin of 17% in 2017, according to a person familiar with the matter. By contrast, the New York Times Co. ’s margin was under 1% that year, while Gannett Co. came in at 1.7%, according to public filings. Alden has declined to disclose more-recent numbers. Between 2012 and January of this year, MediaNews Group cut staff by 76% at its 11 unionized papers, including the Denver Post, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the San Jose Mercury News, according to the News Guild, a union that represents newspaper employees. At the Norristown Times-Herald in Pennsylvania, staff was reduced to just five from 45.
Last year, as a group of Baltimore Sun reporters embarked on a long-shot endeavor to find a new owner that could save their paper from a hedge-fund takeover, a former Maryland politician gave them a piece of advice. Treat this like a political campaign.
The Orlando Sentinel on Friday published an editorial beseeching white knight investors to rescue the newspaper from a hostile takeover that Alden Global Capital has been pursuing for the paper’s parent company Tribune Publishing. In the unusual public call for support, Sentinel editors express contempt for Alden, their potential corporate owner, and characterize the moment as existential for the newspaper’s future.
Stories are back on the cover of Kansas City’s Northeast News this week after the newspaper intentionally printed a blank front page of its previous edition to show community members what they’d miss if the newspaper folded.

The front page of Kansas City’s Northeast News was left blank earlier this week in an effort to show readers what it woul

A committee of the Connecticut state legislature heard compelling testimony March 18 about the value of The Hartford Courant to the local community and the threat that Alden Global Capital poses to it. “The hedge funds and private equity [newspaper] owners lack an appreciation for journalism’s traditional civic mission,” testified Penny Abernathy, a professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. “They view their newspapers as investments to be bought, sold, traded or shuttered.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chair of the subcommittee, introduced legislation Wednesday that would allow news publishers and broadcasters to bargain as a group with Google and Facebook for linking to their content. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, or JPCA, also would give a four-year exemption from antitrust rules so news organizations large and small can work together. Schleuss said he supports the new bill but would like to see more news worker job protections. “Google and Facebook benefit from the stories produced by journalists and they use the traffic they get to sell ads, capturing a majority of the digital ad revenue,” Schleuss said. “The companies should pay their fair share when benefiting from the sharing of news content.”
NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss told a House subcommittee on Friday that local news is facing “an extinction-level” threat that jeopardizes American democracy. Read his oral testimony.