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."

In Wednesday's edition of the New York Daily News, reporter Larry McShane practically begs someone local to "step up and save New York's Hometown Paper." McShane and many of his colleagues fear that Tribune's current path, a takeover by Alden Global Capital, will cause further harm to the paper. McShane's column calls Alden a "notorious hedge fund known for decimating newspapers like the Denver Post before picking the bones for profit."
Please, anyone rich enough to buy my newspaper, this is a chance to save something important. This is a chance to be a hero.
Our goal is not to report on the state of local journalism, but to show what the American public misses when thousands of stories are not told.
Local news serves our critical information needs, particularly regarding vital issues such as vaccines, elections and public safety. The newspaper industry, still our primary source of original reporting, has lost well over 50 percent of its workforce since the early 2000s, leading to hundreds of closures and news deserts across the country. No longer commercially viable, local journalism’s devastation will only worsen in the coming months and years. Yet infrastructures must be maintained regardless of their profitability and such glaring market failure should necessitate government intervention. Public goods, after all, require public investments. Unfortunately, we often take such democratic infrastructure for granted, leading to neglect and disinvestment over time.
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.