News

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.

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.

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.

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.