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.

“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.

Dramatic changes in news ownership have been recent and swift. Today, hedge funds control one-third of U.S. newspapers, and all four of the largest local newspaper chains are owned or managed by these poorly regulated financial institutions. Three-quarters of the top 200 newspapers by circulation are owned or controlled by hedge funds.

In a pair of interviews with Tom Hall at Midday on WYPR, journalism advocates Margaret Sullivan and Jon Schleuss warned of the dangers facing communities that lose access to local news.
“In a smaller community or even a city the size of Shreveport/Bossier, you need enough journalists to cover what’s happening in the city government, what’s happening at the parish level, what’s happening at the state level, especially what’s happening down in Baton Rouge,” NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss said.
In October, Gannett offered a round of voluntary buyouts to all its employees. Poynter has learned that roughly 600 people opted in and roughly 500 buyouts were accepted... “Gannett’s furloughs earlier this year and the recent buyouts undermine our democracy,” said Jon Schleuss, president of The NewsGuild — Communications Workers of America. “It’s a disgrace that any news company thinks it can cut its way to success.”
Dr. Seema Yasmin, who studies the overlap of news deserts and health deserts, told Brian Stelter that those of us who live in news deserts are more likely to face not just a pandemic, but also a misinfodemic that fuels the spread of the disease. Speaking on Reliable Sources on CNN on Nov. 15, 2020, she said the press is “immune system of a democracy.”