News

Big stories and essential reporting don’t protect the Florida Times-Union from a fresh round of staff cuts.
Then a bold, if slightly desperate, idea came to him. In his brushes with the professional journalism crowd, he’d heard about an increasingly popular school of thought: if the press is a public service, it ought to be publicly funded.

As more local news outlets close their doors amid dried up revenue streams, destructive hedge fund ownership, and tech platform monopolies, the issue has become as clear as day: local news is facing an extinction-level event. 

The NewsGuild is fighting to save the news, and the “Paths Forward Town Hall” this week provided insight into the scope of the crisis facing American journalism, and a stirring call to action from some of the leading thinkers on building a sustainable future for the news industry.

“Our nation desperately needs a new COVID-19 economic relief package and we cannot afford an abrupt halt in negotiations. Tens of millions of Americans remain out of work, including 11,000 journalists laid off in the first half of 2020. Everyone suffers when journalists lose jobs and we lose access to critical, life-saving news and information.

When the The Casper Star-Tribune this summer announced it would only print five editions per week -- leaving Wyoming with not a single local newspaper that prints every day -- it was “a symbolic punch”  to the gut for the paper’s newsroom staff, former reporter Seth Klamann recalled.

Brian Stelter speaks with reporters in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Tribune Publishing is cutting costs by closing the century-old newsroom at The Morning Call newspaper. Reporter Jennifer Sheehan says "we need to have a home base. We need to have a place that we can come collaborate."

Watch video here.

But those operations run just several sites each, while Mr. Timpone’s network has more than twice as many sites as the nation’s largest newspaper chain, Gannett. And while political groups have helped finance networks like Courier, investors in news operations typically don’t weigh in on specific articles.

“We endured cut after cut after cut. I had to lay people off,” he said. “We were under assault, really, from our own owners, and nothing that we did — not being faster, smarter, more digital — none of those things really matter when a hedge fund doesn’t really care about the community or the journalism that the newspaper it owns produces. It’s really about this quarter’s return.”
Ryckman walked away and, several months later, helped found The Colorado Sun, a website that specializes in the sort of public-interest journalism that Alden was unwilling to fund.