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."

“They call Alden a vulture hedge fund, and I think that’s honestly a misnomer,” Johnson said. “A vulture doesn’t hold a wounded animal’s head underwater. This is predatory.”
Some may shrug at the inevitable passing of the local newspaper, writing it off as a dinosaur that doesn’t have much to offer in our modern world of blogs, social media sites, and streamed soundbites. But no news is not necessarily good news for society as a whole, says Harvard Business School Professor Jonas Heese. When local newspapers shutter, some businesses evidently treat the lack of press coverage as permission to act badly and end up committing more illegal violations, including pollution, workplace safety infractions, and financial fraud, according to Heese’s research.
People now see most journalists as part of a faceless entity, but they want them to be part of their community. This means being present to understand and cover issues that matter — an exceedingly difficult task when resources are already stretched thin, leaving state legislatures, city councils and local courts often uncovered. But it also means investing in your community of journalists. Journalists already doing this community-based work tend to be most overlooked and under resourced. When a reporter recently tweeted kudos to a major digital outlet for launching a local newsletter to rectify a dearth of “quality local news” in Washington, D.C, the community responded with a firestorm of other options that eventually topped twenty local and hyper-local publications.

At the time of the sale to GateHouse, The Hawk Eye wasn’t

In many places, it started with a cut in print days. Furloughs. Layoffs. Just to get through the crisis, newsroom leaders told readers. In some places, none of it was enough. Now, small newsrooms around the country, often more than 100 years old, often the only news source in those places, are closing under the weight of the coronavirus. Some report they’re merging with nearby publications. But that “merger” means the end of news dedicated to those communities, the evaporation of institutional knowledge and the loss of local jobs.
In the crowded field of nonprofits supporting local news ventures, Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro’s National Trust for Local News stands out as something distinct. Rather than grants, the trust makes investments. Advice and some control come with the help. But the point is for recipients to gather other investors and develop models for serving small-town news deserts that are losing all local coverage. I refer to the project as Hansen Shapiro’s because she developed the idea, first as a Ph.D. thesis, then as a research fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, and now as a research fellow at Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism.
Alden Global Capital isn’t just an owner of newspapers. It famously acquired and shepherded to bankruptcy big brands like Fred’s Pharmacy and Payless Shoe Source. But the company has in recent years honed in on newspapers expressly, purposely targeting them for acquisition. "It's straightforward," said Margaret Sullivan, media columnist at The Washington Post. “Newspapers are mostly still profitable. They still have assets, and this is a late-stage effort to harvest those assets and the profit that still exists, without regard to long-term sustainability.” “They are called ‘vulture capitalists’ for a reason.”
The largest federation of unions in the United States wrote to Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal on Friday, commending Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Ann Kirkpatrick for introducing the legislation. The bill is a “lifeline for these essential community institutions as they struggle to provide the information their readers rely on during the current national emergency, and to set local news outlets up for a successful recovery,” Government Affairs Director William Samuel wrote.