News

So last summer, there was a surprise announcement that The Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio, which is a substantial city, was going to close its doors the next month. The announcement was in July. They would - their last day of publication would be in August. And it was a shocker to the community. The paper had been around for over 150 years, mostly family-owned during that time and still family-owned. And people just couldn't believe it.

There’s a hunger for accurate and useful news coverage right now — even more so than usual — because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic and because we’re now only a few months away from a consequential election for the state and the nation.

A look at the most read stories in recent days on The Daily Herald’s online publication, HeraldNet.com, shows that nearly half addressed either the pandemic or the Aug. 4 primary election.

There is a widening gulf between American aspirations for and assessments of the news media. With each passing benchmark study, the American people render deeper and increasingly polarized judgments about the news media and how well it is fulfilling its role in our democracy.

William Samuel, the AFL-CIO's Director of Government Affairs, wrote a letter to Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) urging for their support of SB 3718. The legislation would allow newspapers and radio stations to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans, even if they’re owned by companies otherwise considered "too big" in the last recovery package.

Thousands of journalists have lost jobs since the pandemic. (Roughly 36,000 workers at news companies in the U.S. have been laid off, been furloughed or had their pay reduced since the pandemic struck, estimates The New York Times.)
“Local small businesses and Main Streets employing locals are critical to the quality of life, health and well-being of this country,” he added, noting that local advertising tax credits would let local merchants “come out swinging to try to rebuild market share and the health and vibrancy of the local economy.”

Hedge fund ownership of newspaper groups typically spells doom for the newsrooms. Just ask some of the former employees at the Denver Post who famously revolted against owner Alden Global Capital's order to cut staff.

But Chatham Asset Management's takeover of McClatchy — scheduled to be finalized on Tuesday — is actually inspiring some cautious optimism among its journalists. That's because Chatham has agreed to allow all employees to keep their jobs while honoring existing union contracts under the hedge fund's plan to pay $312 million for the newspaper conglomerate.

New rounds of newsroom layoffs are turning others into weak and woefully incomplete stewards of local journalism. With no witnesses, reports of corruption and incompetence in powerful institutions will go down, as corruption and incompetence in powerful institutions actually increases. No one will be watching.
The decline of local news can have significant consequences for communities, Sullivan tells Couric. Citizens tend to become less civically engaged, less likely to vote and more likely to “go into their partisan corners” and vote along party lines when they do go to the polls. Without the contributions of local news reporters, Sullivan warns, “our democracy actually doesn’t work any more.”
As the NewsGuild continues to encourage bipartisan Congressional support for S.B. 3718, NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss penned a letter to Senate Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to further underscore the need for local news in our communities.
When a local media company folds, studies have shown the cost of local government increases 30% within 4-5 years, civic pride diminishes, voting numbers drop, economic vitality declines and volunteering fades away. This is a unique opportunity that allows just a few voices to make a dramatic impact in the future of your local community.
Local news allows us to remain informed about our government, school boards and elections. Like the story last year about former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who was indicted on fraud over sales of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books.
While national news consistently tells the story of infection rates, the death toll, and COVID-driven unemployment numbers via sidebar graphics; local news is sharing essential information about the implications of local infection rates and places to be tested; financial support for families in need; as well as humanizing members of the community who succumb to the virus — information residents want and need.
The powers of the “Fourth Estate” and the ability of a free press to advocate and frame not only political issues but social, economic, and environmental, to name a few, issues is essential for transparency and accountability.
Sullivan writes that while the disinformation spread by Donald Trump and his supporters, and their subsequent cries of “fake news” at anything unfavorable about the president or his administration covered by mainstream news organizations, is well documented, something just as important – and equally depressing – in journalism is happening.

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the long-term decline in print advertising, delivered another blow to media jobs this week.

Metro Corp., which publishes Philadelphia Magazine and its counterpart in Boston, said this week that it is cutting eight positions and putting 13 employees on furlough in its Boston and Philadelphia offices. Remaining employees are being forced to take 20% pay cuts for 90 days, said an employee who was not authorized to speak for the company.

Our founders recognized as much when they enshrined protections for a strong free press in the Constitution. We’ve seen the commitment local journalists bring to this role, as local news organizations continue to churn out daily reporting on life-saving public health info on COVID-19 in their regions. Despite facing existential financial threats, many of these outlets are even making their COVID-19 coverage free to all readers as a public service.

Many readers in Washington state might not realize just how bad things are out there for communities that, in recent decades, have lost their local weekly or daily newspapers or seen their newspapers reduced to what are being referred to as “ghost newspapers,” as Sullivan refers in her book title. Newspapers in Spokane, Vancouver, Seattle, Yakima and Walla Walla have in-state owners, though struggling with market changes, are faring better.
As essential workers, journalists are a critical resource for providing the people of New Hampshire with local reporting on what’s happening in their communities. This includes life-saving public health information about the impact of COVID-19 in their areas, particularly as the pandemic’s course takes new directions every day.
Over the past few years, the newspaper industry has been slowly acquired by deep-pocketed financial companies that believe they can cut costs, shift to digital distribution and create better returns. Now, as coronavirus-induced layoffs mount at local newspapers, journalists and industry observers fear that the pandemic could pave the way for further consolidation.
People who read newspapers, either in print or digitally, tend to be regular voters and are more likely to be civically engaged. That’s good for everyone. Finally, the bill would provide a nonrefundable tax credit to small- to medium-sized businesses that advertise in local newspapers, print or digitally, or on local radio and television stations.
In the past five months, Congress has responded to the coronavirus public health crisis with several emergency relief measures, including the stimulus checks sent to individuals and households, payroll protections to small businesses, expanded unemployment payments and fee waivers for borrowing against 401(k) plans.
Meanwhile, the local news industry is enduring dire circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Advertising revenue has diminished as businesses are making an effort to combat the virus, leading to layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts for thousands of journalists. Journalists, like many others, are essential workers, and New Jerseyeans depend on local publications to receive targeted information pertaining to their communities.
“As local journalism declines, government officials conduct themselves with less integrity, efficiency, and effectiveness, and corporate malfeasance goes unchecked. With the loss of local news, citizens are: less likely to vote, less politically informed, and less likely to run for office.” Democracy weakens, in other words, and loses its foundations.
Not so long ago, the Youngstown Vindicator sent someone to cover every municipal or school board meeting in the surrounding three-county area. “People knew that,” said Mark Brown, former general manager of the northeastern Ohio newspaper, “and they behaved.”
Newspapers in every state received forgivable, low-interest loans through the Paycheck Protection Program to keep journalists working during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released this week by the Small Business Administration.

Between 2008 and 2017, American newspapers cut 45 percent of their newsrooms staff—and the following years, for many outlets, brought even deeper contractions. From 2004 to 2015, the United States lost more than 1,800 print outlets—some because of corporate mergers and others because of simple closures. Fewer than one in six Americans subscribe to a local newspaper, in either print or digital form.

This kind of journalism—local papers that are rooted in communities—is disappearing, and the places most at risk of losing their local news are places where a lot of conservatives happen to live. COVID-19 has wrought havoc on newsrooms, and massive layoffs continue to occur at newspapers across the country. But even before the pandemic, the crisis in local journalism was well established.
The local-news losses are startling: As I write in my new book, Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy, in the past 15 years, more than 2,100 local newspapers have gone out of business, according to the journalism scholar Penny Muse Abernathy at the University of North Carolina.
We media people know all too well that many local news sources are deeply troubled, financially, but most Americans do not know. And most Americans aren’t accustomed to paying for local news. So that’s a real problem to be overcome.
“One of the biggest problems we have in journalism right now, is hedge funds are bleeding newsrooms dry,” said Jon Schleuss, president of the News Guild International, the union that represents reporters at The Sun and other papers. The funds treat “newspapers and news publications as distressed assets,” he said.
Newspapers and mayors aren’t always friendly. If journalists aren’t prying into the inner workings of City Hall, they aren’t doing their jobs. Tension needn’t breed animosity, though, and a couple of big-city mayors went to bat for their local newspapers last month.
Hedge-fund ownership is one of, if not the, worst developments that have occurred for newspapers. These companies don’t care about journalism. They care about strip-mining what’s left for whatever profits can be squeezed, not with an eye to a sustainable future but with an eye toward next quarter’s balance sheet.

Local newspaper reporters who doggedly attend school board, planning commission and city council meetings and who scan police blotters and pore over budgets and contracts are essential cogs in our communities. They serve as the eyes and ears of the public and play a critical role as watchdogs for waste, fraud and abuse and holding officials accountable.

I know this firsthand: I began what became a nearly three-decade journalism career playing this role in Colonie, New York, and later in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Stuck between a constricting print business model and a shaky digital future, a time made even more unstable by the coronavirus, editors and reporters have been forced to scale back their ambitions. A careful reader can detect the gaps, the stories not told, the voices not heard.
The only thing canceling your subscription to a newspaper will do is hasten the death of journalism itself. It will leave your community with even fewer full-time reporters to tell you what local leaders were up to while you weren’t paying attention. It will leave you with a far poorer understanding of the place where you live
“Think about what a strong base that is and how numerous a number is down at the bottom, so it feeds through to the top. The New York Times ultimately depends on what the Capital Gazette writes, in many ways to determine the agenda at the national level,” Abernathy said. Capital journalist Selene San Felice memorialized her slain colleagues and pleaded with the audience to find a way to save The Capital.

NewsGuild journalists representing 10 Tribune Publishing Co. publications across the country are launching a collective campaign to return these institutions to local ownership.

In a sweeping vote of no confidence in Tribune’s current leadership, NewsGuild members at publications including The Capital Gazette, The Chicago Tribune, The Hartford Courant, The Morning Call, The Orlando Sentinel, The Virginian-Pilot and more are seeking local investors who recognize that local newspapers are vital community institutions.

Journalists at the Chicago Tribune have resorted to begging for new owners, the Times reported. Some editors have already left. The union launched an ultimately failed campaign to attempt to unseat Alden’s board members. Many reporters have been furloughed—a difficult outcome that was itself a hard-won concession by the union.

Local news allows readers to cut away from national headlines, navigate through some of the biases that plague cable news, and get to the true issues that are affecting their communities. It’s easy to imagine a story like this slipping through the cracks. Only the efforts of Anjeanette Damon and her colleagues at Reno Gazette Journal brought it to the attention of local readers.
As Ken Doctor put it on Monday, "this is the mid-year witching hour for the U.S. daily press," with numerous possible outcomes. McClatchy's biggest investor Chatham might end up with the newspaper chain. Or Gannett. Or a group of investors from the "growing civic-good journalism world" who could set up "the country's first major nonprofit newspaper chain."
The very framework of democracy in America is being weakened by the rapid, widespread demise of local news organizations, particularly small newspapers that once served as trusted providers of information and pillars of their communities, according to Margaret Sullivan, who spoke virtually to a South Dakota audience on Tuesday, June 30.
The pandemic looks like it will be another defining moment for local journalism not only in Pittsburgh but across the U.S., according to a newly updated report from the University of North Carolina. It shows that losses that were happening before the crisis have only accelerated...
Floridians rely on the availability of local news reporting during times of crisis. It should be no surprise that like all small businesses across our country, local news organizations are suffering the same economic uncertainty and challenges. Our country was founded with a recognition of the need for a robust and free press, and we must make sure it stays that way.
Comedian Hasan Minhaj answers with wit and outrage on "Patriot Act." “With everything going on in the country right now, I think we can all agree: It’s been really hard to watch the news,” Minhaj begins. And he soon gets to, “There’s one area where [local news] is unmatched: exposing sex offenders.
But things are different in the digital realm. Over the last 15 years, more than 1,400 cities and towns across the U.S. have lost their community newspapers, abandoned by readers and advertisers who have moved online. They’re called news deserts — locales where the local daily or weekly newspaper no longer exists.
I am writing regarding the NewsGuild’s “Save the News” campaign. In these times, when the public is being barraged by claims of “fake news,” we need to have more local newspaper reporters to keep our public officials honest.
The edges of news deserts are already expanding on maps, with more to come. Still, many more newspapers, some with fewer than a handful of advertisements each issue, have kept reporting the local news because now, maybe more than ever, you need to know what is going on in your community.
But what if your local newspaper no longer exists? It wouldn’t be too bold of a prediction to say that without help, many more newspapers across Kentucky and the country will go out of business soon.
The relentless spread of news deserts was speeding up even before the coronavirus incapacitated local economies, and since then the rate has accelerated some more. At the same time, the digital news cavalry long and widely expected to come riding to the rescue of community journalism has decelerated to a surprising halt.
The North Carolina journalism professor’s latest report out this week details the industry’s decline from 2004 through 2019, a period that saw the loss of more than 2,000 newspapers and a 44% drop in circulation overall.
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.
Despite being honored, all three newspapers have had to cut pay, or lay off or furlough workers, since the pandemic started. Unlike the case with many other businesses that are suffering now, however, COVID-19 isn’t the source of these papers’ problems; it has simply accelerated the great disruption in the news business that began at least two decades ago.
Now more than ever Americans rely upon the availability of local news reporting during times of crisis. It should be no surprise that, like all small businesses across our country, local news organizations are suffering the same economic uncertainty and challenges. Our country was founded on the need for a robust and free press.
“I was disturbed to see blatant attacks on our press freedom over the weekend. From Fox News to MSNBC, from Minneapolis to Louisville, journalists were among those singled out for simply doing their job — covering protests following the death of George Floyd. Attacks against members of the press, violence against black communities and brutality against peaceful protesters have no place in our democracy,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss.
Local news publications have been hard hit by financial pressure stemming from the pandemic, with many operating newsrooms gutted by layoffs and furloughs. Now, local journalists are juggling coverage of twin crises — the pandemic and the protests roiling the country — with even fewer resources.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, furloughs, layoffs and closures took local journalists in the U.S. away from the critical work they provide. Add to those losses the 56% of newspaper jobs lost in the past decade, according to Pew Research.
A thirst for information about the coronavirus and spreading social unrest means demand for news has been booming. But the catastrophic effects of the virus on the US economy have hammered the newspaper industry, leading to dramatic declines in advertising revenue as well as layoffs, furloughs and other economic distress.
The media industry is at another inflection point. In the way the Me Too movement reshaped newsrooms, sparked debate, and purged bad actors from positions of authority, the Black Lives Matter movement is bringing about a similar upheaval by putting questions about race and reporting on the center stage.
The union representing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporters demanded on Monday that management rescind their ban on two black journalists covering protests over the death of George Floyd. The situation began to unfold a week ago, according to Michael Fuoco, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents most newsroom employees at the paper.
Journalists, especially those covering local news, are essential workers who deserve our support, including their inclusion in future economic recovery bills now being considered by Congress. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic collapse have devastated America’s already crippled local news industry, which has traditionally relied on advertising to survive.

The top media union in North America is launching a historic advocacy campaign in a desperate effort to gin up political support to help stave off the economic crunch on the news industry.

Today, The NewsGuild is launching a new advocacy campaign, Save The News, to make the case for why local newsrooms must be included in future federal recovery efforts to support essential industries. Although journalists are covering the biggest story of their lives, the news industry is fighting to survive. L
The NewsGuild-CWA, the largest union for journalists in North America, on Monday launched a new advocacy campaign to compel Congress to assist local news organizations financially harmed by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“And when you lose a small daily or a weekly, you lose the journalist who was gonna show up at your school board meeting, your planning board meeting, your county commissioner meeting,” she said. Communities lose transparency and accountability. Then, she said, research shows that taxes go up and voter participation goes down.
Check out the #SaveTheNews hashtag on Twitter. This week local journalists are spotlighting the work that shows how essential they are, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. The hashtag is part of a new NewsGuild campaign to convince Congress to include relief $$$ for the news industry in the next Covid-19 stimulus package.
Many local news outlets, like newspapers and tv and radio stations, are suffering financially during the pandemic, but there is an effort to get local media some financial relief in the form of a legislative aid package. Helping lead the effort to convince lawmakers the assistance is vital is NewsGuild President Jon Schluess, who is both a former Arkansas resident and voice on KUAF.
A bipartisan U.S. Senate proposal of Democrats Maria Cantwell, Amy Klobuchar, Chuck Schumer and Republicans John Boozman and Joni Ernst would provide news outlets emergency assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
A $3 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill unveiled Tuesday would make local newspapers and broadcast outlets eligible for small business loans to keep employees on the payroll, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
April 8, 2020 – The NewsGuild-CWA is pleased that 19 senators are asking Senate leaders to include funding to support local journalism and media in any future stimulus package. “This is an important step in protecting life-saving news operations from devastation and we will work to win broad, bipartisan support for such a package,” said Jon Schleuss, president of The NewsGuild.
This news story started as a local one before Smithfield (and meat processing plants everywhere) were known as hot spots for spreading the coronavirus. We only know about the story because of dedicated reporters at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Congress is looking to help struggling local newspapers, TV and radio stations qualify for federal coronavirus aid, according to people familiar with the matter. The coming coronavirus legislation expected to be introduced in the House as soon as this week will include a provision to expand newspapers’ and broadcasters’ eligibility for forgivable small business loans, the people said.
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst wants the Paycheck Protection Program to be expanded so local newspapers, radio and TV stations can access financial assistance at a time when journalists are being furloughed and laid off due in large part to a dramatic drop in advertising revenue.
An economic free fall in the local news industry began long before the coronavirus started wreaking havoc on the national economy. Since shutdowns to combat the virus began, things have gotten much worse, as advertisers halted spending and publishers slashed more journalists’ jobs and hours despite the public’s need for information on the pandemic.
If the coronavirus crisis has taught us anything, it is that the work of journalists and photojournalists is essential. Without it how would we know how our communities are being affected? How would we know the basic measures we need to take to ensure our health?
The news media business was shaky before the coronavirus started spreading across the country last month. Since then, the economic downturn that put 30 million Americans out of work has led to pay cuts, layoffs and shutdowns at many news outlets, including weeklies like The Stranger in Seattle, digital empires like Vox Media and Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper chain.
For journalism outlets in Wisconsin and nationwide, the COVID-19 pandemic could be the biggest story ever. And reporters and editors are covering it even as their future has never looked more precarious.
Three years ago, Matt DeRienzo surveyed America’s journalism landscape and issued a dire warning that most reporters didn’t want or need to hear. “The last recession was brutal for newspapers and local news,” wrote DeRienzo, who at the time was the director for a nonprofit organization that supported local online news outlets. “The next one could be an extinction-level event.”
Washington — Charges of "fake news" and "enemy of the people" may still emanate from the White House, where the president continues his barrage against the Fourth Estate amidst the coronavirus pandemic. But at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, there is a groundswell of support for an already battered news industry that now finds itself grappling with drastic cuts spurred by a loss in advertising revenue during the crisis.
As the coronavirus crisis wreaked havoc in the news business last month, the newly installed president of the most prominent journalists’ union in the country, the NewsGuild, crossed a line that once seemed unimaginable: He asked the government for money.
In our era of talking head opinion shows and dubiously-sourced memes being consumed as news, print journalism has never been more important — and despite numerous proclamations in recent decades, print journalism has never been dead. Each decade that print journalism has been eulogized, it has continued to survive and even thrive in many cases.
It’s true that much of the local news industry had fallen on hard times well before covid-19. But the pandemic is inflicting new damage even as it underscores the crucial role of local newspapers. In this public health emergency, people turn to local media for answers to what The Post’s Margaret Sullivan called “life-or-death information” such as “Where to get tested?” and “Is it safe to go outside?”
The top media union in North America is looking to hire a Republican lobbying firm in hopes that bipartisan support on Capitol Hill may save the industry as it faces an existential crisis.
Unions representing journalists at the Baltimore Sun launched a "Save Our Sun" campaign Thursday in an effort to detach the newspaper from its corporate ownership and create a nonprofit news model. The effort by the Washington-Baltimore News Guild and the NewsGuild-CWA seeks to return the Sun to local ownership under a revenue model that would reinvest its profits back into the newspaper.