News

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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.”
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.)

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.

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.